John SchelhasProject Leader/Research Forester
Athen, GA 30602
Social and cultural dimensions of forest use and conservation:
My interest is in the relationships between people and forests, with research focusing on several areas: (1) cultural models and imaginaries of forests; (2) land use choice, landscape restoration, and biodiversity conservation; (3) marginalized and minority forest owners; (4) collaboration and community-based approaches; and (5) cultural and sacred aspects of forests. My work seeks to integrate social science theory and natural resource management, and prioritizes fieldwork and qualitative analysis. I have worked in contexts such as protected areas (neighbors and users), private forest management (livelihoods, conservation, and ownership), forest threats (invasive plants, insect pests), climate change (narratives, social vulnerability), sustainability (landscapes, bioenergy), and tribes and indigenous people (use and management of culturally important forest products).
- Ph.D. in Renewable Natural Resources. Anthropology, 1991
- University of Arizona
- M.S. in Watershed Management, 1979
- University of Arizona
- B.S. in Natural Resources, 1977
- University of Michigan
- Research Forester, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Athens, GA
- Research Forester, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Tuskegee University, AL
- Research Associate and Senior Research Associate, Deptartment of Natural Resources, Cornell University
Coordinated NSF Research Training Grant, Cornell Program in Ecological and Social Science Challenges of Conservation
- International Policy Specialist, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Washington, DC
- International Cooperation Specialist, National Park Service, Washington, DC
- Trail Worker, National Park Service, Yosemite National Park, CA
- Volunteer, Conservation of Natural Resources, Peace Corps, Guatemala
Awards and Recognition
- Director's Partnership Award, Southern Research Station, 2019
- For innovative efforts in establishing a partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which resulted in improved and integrated management of culturally important forest products for the Eastern Band.
- Regional Forester Award, Southern Region, 2019
- Delivering State and Private Forestry Programs Group Award for contribution to the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program.
- Visiting Tribal Heritage Scholar, Grey Towers, Milford, PA, 2017
- Director’s Multicultural Organization Award, Southern Research Station, 2010
- For significant contributions to the Agency's ability to meet the needs of minority and limited-resource forest landowners, and for outreach and education of Tuskegee University students.
- Fellow, Society for Applied Anthropology, 2002
Featured Publications and Products
- Schelhas, John ; Hitchner, Sarah ; Brosius, J. Peter. 2018. Envisioning and implementing wood-based bioenergy systems in the southern United States: Imaginaries in everyday talk.
- Hitchner, Sarah ; Schelhas, John ; Brosius, J. Peter; Nibbelink, Nathan . 2018. Thru-hiking the John Muir Trail as a modern pilgrimage: implications for natural resource management.
- Hitchner, Sarah; Schelhas, John; Johnson Gaither, Cassandra. 2017. A privilege and a challenge: valuation of heirs' property by African American landowners and implications for forest management in the southeastern U.S.
- Schelhas, John; Hitchner, Sarah; Johnson Gaither, Cassandra; Fraser, Rory; Jennings, Viniece; Diop, Amadou. 2016. Engaging African American landowners in sustainable forest management.
- Schelhas, J.; Samar, S.; Johnson, Cassandra; Asumadu, K.; Tease, F.; Stanturf, J.; Blay, D. 2010. Opportunities and capacity for community-based forest carbon sequestration and monitoring in Ghana.
- Schelhas, John; Pfeffer, Max J. 2009. When global environmentalism meets local livelihoods: policy and management lessons.
- Schelhas, John; Sanchez-Azofeifa, G. Arturo. 2006. Post-frontier forest change adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park, Costa Rica.
- Schelhas, John; Pfeffer, Max J. 2005. Forest Values of national park neighbors in Costa Rica.
- Schelhas, John; Zabawa, Robert; Molnar, Joseph J. 2003. New opportunities for social research on forest landowners in the south.
- McGinley, Kathleen; Charnley, Susan; Cubbage, Frederick ; Hajjar, Reem; Frey, Gregory; Schelhas, John; Hovis, Meredith; Kornhauser, Kailey. 2022. Community forest ownership, rights, and governance regimes in the United States.
- Hitchner, Sarah ; Goyke, Noah ; Thomas, Marc ; Schelhas, John ; Dwivedi, Puneet . 2021. Beyond the math: Case studies of Black forest landowners in Georgia, United States.
- Baumflek, Michelle; Cabe, Tommy; Schelhas, John; Dunlavey, Maria. 2021. Managing culturally significant plants in Cherokee homelands: emerging platforms.
- Schelhas, John ; Brandeis, Thomas J.; Rudel, Thomas K. 2021. Planted forests and natural regeneration in forest transitions: patterns and implications from the U.S. South.
- Hitchner, Sarah ; Schelhas, John ; Dwivedi, Puneet . 2021. Safe havens: The intersection of family, religion, and community in black cultural landscapes of the southeastern United States.
- Schelhas, John ; Alexander, Janice ; Brunson, Mark ; Cabe, Tommy ; Crall, Alycia ; Dockry, Michael J.; Emery, Marla R.; Frankel, Susan J.; Hapner, Nina ; Hickman, Caleb R.; Jordan, Rebecca ; LaVoie, Michael J.; Ma, Zhao ; Starinchak, Joe ; Vukomanovic, Jelena . 2021. Social and Cultural Dynamics of Non-native Invasive Species.
- Schelhas, John ; Hitchner, Sarah ; Dwivedi, Puneet ; Thomas, Marc . 2021. Understanding black landowner’s engagement in forestry in Georgia, United States: a closer look.
- Schelhas, John . 2020. Comment on: Race, ethnicity, and natural resources in the United States: A review – with reprinted article.
- Schelhas, John ; Hitchner, Sarah L. 2020. Integrating research and outreach for environmental justice: African American land ownership and forestry.
- Schelhas, John . 2020. Research and reconciliation: Unsettling ways of knowing through indigenous relationships.
- Cox, Cody ; Anderson, Christopher J.; Morse, Wayde C.; Schelhas, John . 2019. Applying Public Participation Geographic Information Systems for coastal wading bird conservation.
- Goyke, Noah ; Dwivedi, Puneet ; Hitchner, Sarah ; Schelhas, John ; Thomas, Marc . 2019. Exploring diversity in forest management outlooks of African American family forest landowners for ensuring sustainability of forestry resources in the southern United States.
- Hitchner, Sarah ; Dwivedi, Puneet ; Schelhas, John ; Jagadish, Arundhati . 2019. Gatekeepers, shareholders, and evangelists: Expanding communication networks of African American forest landowners in North Carolina.
- Butler, Sarah ; Schelhas, John ; Butler, Brett J. 2019. Minority family forest owners in the United States.
- Schelhas, John ; Hitchner, Sarah ; McGregor, Alan . 2019. The Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program.
- Schelhas, John ; Hitchner, Sarah ; Brosius, J. Peter. 2018. Envisioning and implementing sustainable bioenergy systems in the U.S.
- Schelhas, John ; Hitchner, Sarah ; Dwivedi, Puneet . 2018. Strategies for successful engagement of African American landowners in forestry.
- Wilson, Sarah Jane; Schelhas, John ; Grau, Ricardo ; Nanni, A. Sofía; Sloan, Sean . 2017. Forest ecosystem-service transitions: the ecological dimensions of the forest transition.
- Schelhas, John. 2017. The battle for Yellowstone: Morality and the sacred roots of environmental conflict, by Justin Farrell.
- Hitchner, Sarah; Schelhas, John; Brosius, J. Peter. 2017. “Even our Dairy Queen shut down”: Risk and resilience in bioenergy development in forest-dependent communities in the US South.
- Schelhas, John; Hitchner, Sarah; Johnson Gaither, Cassandra; Jennings, Viniece. 2017. “Sunshine, sweat, and tears”: African-American ties to land and forests in the south.
- Johnson Gaither, Cassandra; Himmelfarb, David; Hitchner, Sarah; Schelhas, John; Shepherd, J. Marshall; K.C., Binita. 2016. "Where the sidewalk ends": sustainable mobility in Atlanta's Cascade community.
- Dwivedi, Puneet; Jagadish, Arundhati; Schelhas, John. 2016. Perceptions of stakeholder groups about the participation of African American family forest landowners in federal landowner assistance programs.
- Hitchner, Sarah; Schelhas, John; Brosius, J. Peter. 2016. Snake oil, silver buckshot, and people who hate us: metaphors and conventional discourses of wood-based bioenergy in the rural southeastern United States.
- Lupoli, Christopher A.; Morse, Wayde C.; Bailey, Conner; Schelhas, John. 2015. Indicator development methodology for volunteer tourism in host communities: creating a low-cost, locally applicable, rapid assessment tool.
- Lupoli, Christopher Anthony; Morse, Wayde C.; Bailey, Conner; Schelhas, John. 2014. Assessing the impacts of international volunteer tourism in host communities: A new approach to organizing and prioritizing indicators.
- Himmelfarb, David; Schelhas, John; Hitchner, Sarah; Johnson Gaither, Cassandra; Dunbar, KathErine; Brosius, J. Peter. 2014. Perceptions of and Attitudes Toward Climate Change in the Southeastern United States.
- Hitchner, Sarah; Schelhas, John; Hujala, Teppo; Brosius, J. Peter. 2014. Public opinion and wood energy.
- Johnson-Gaither, cassandra; Schelhas, John; Zipperer, Wayne; Sun, Ge; Caldwell, Peter V.; Poudyal, Neelam. 2014. Water stress and social vulnerability in the southern United States, 2010-2040.
- Brosius, J. Peter; Schelhas, John; Hitchner, Sarah. 2013. Social acceptability of bioenergy in the U.S.
- Schelhas, John; Molnar, Joseph. 2012. A Common-Pool Resource Approach to Forest Health: The Case of the Southern Pine Beetle.
- Schelhas, John. 2012. Book review: Unveiling the Whale: Discourses on Whales and Whaling.
- Schelhas, John; Zhang, Yaoqui; Zabawa, Robert; Zheng, Bin. 2012. Exploring family forest landowner diversity: Place, race, and gender in Alabama, United States.
- Schelhas, John; Miller, James H.; Chambers, Jeanne C. 2012. Non-native plants and adaptive collaborative approaches to ecosystem restoration [Chapter 8].
- Schelhas, John; Hitchner, Sarah; Johnson, Cassandra. 2012. Social vulnerability and environmental change along urban-rural interfaces.
- Charnley, Susan; Jakes, Pamela; Schelhas, John. 2012. Socioeconomic assessment of Forest Service American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects: key findings and lessons learned.
- Schelhas, John. 2012. Using multiple research methods to understand family forest owners.
- Charnley, Susan; Jakes, Pamela J.; Schelhas, John. 2011. A socioeconomic assessment of Forest Service American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects: eight case studies.
- Zhang, Yaoqi; Majumdar, Indrajit; Schelhas, John. 2010. Changes in Woodland Use from Longleaf Pine to Loblolly Pine.
- Gyawali, Buddhi; Fraser, Rory; Bukenya, James; Schelhas, John. 2010. Regional Growth and income convergence in the western black belt counties of Alabama: evidence from census block group data.
- Schelhas, John. 2010. The U S national parks in international perspective: The Yellowstone model or conservation syncretism?.
- Schelhas, John; Pfeffer, Max J. 2010. When global conservation meets local livelihoods: People and parks in Central America.
- Gyawali, B.; Fraser, R.; Schelhas, J.; Wang, Y.; Tadesse, W.; Bukenya, J. 2009. Human well-being and land cover types in the southeastern U.S.A.
- Zhang, Y.; Liao, X.; Butler, B.J.; Schelhas, J. 2009. The increasing importance of small-scale forestry: evidence from family forest ownership patterns in the United States.
- Schelhas, John; Zabawa, Robert. 2009. The social structure of family and farm forestry in Alabama.
- Kebede, Ellene; Schelhas, John; Haslerig, Janet. 2008. Alternative forest resource use - outdoor recreation and rural economics.
- Gyawali, Buddhi; Fraser, Rory; Bukenya, James; Schelhas, John. 2008. Income convergence in a rural, majority African American region.
- Pfeffer, Max J.; Schelhas, John W.; Meola, Catherine. 2006. Environmental globalization, organizational form, and expected benefits from protected areas in Central America.
- Kebede, Ellene; Ngandu, Mudiayi; Schelhas, John; Batalia, Doris. 2006. Recreational demand for Tuskegee National Forest, a non-market valuation.
- Gyawali, Buddhi R.; Fraser, Rory F.; Wang, Yong; Tadesse, Wubishet; Bukenya, James; Schelhas, John. 2006. Spatial analysis of the change in land cover and human well-being in the black-belt counties of Alabama.
- Gan, Jianbang; Onianwa, Okwuldili O.; Schelhas, John; Wheelock, Gerald C.; Dubois, Mark R. 2005. Does race matter in landowners' participation in conservation incentive programs?.
- Schelhas, John; Zabawa, Robert. 2005. Model forest landowners in Alabama: are they different from typical landowners?.
- Zhang, Yaoqi; Zhang, Daowei; Schelhas, John. 2005. Small-scale non-industrial private forest ownership in the United States: rationale and implications for forest management.
- Onianwa, Okwudili; Wheelock, Gerald; Gyawali, Buddhi; Gan, Jianbang; Dubois, Mark; Schelhas, John. 2004. An analysis of factors affecting participation behavior of limited resource farmers in agricultural cost-share programs in Alabama.
- Schelhas, John. 2004. Natural enemies: people-wildlife conflicts in anthropological perspective.
- Molnar, Joseph J.; Schelhas, John; Holeski, Carrie. 2003. Controlling the Southern Pine Beetle: Small Landowner Perceptions and Practices.
- Crim, Sarah Day; Dubois, Mark; Bailey, Conner; Schelhas, John. 2003. Female forestland owners: Characterization of assistance needs.
- Schelhas, John. 2002. Activities of the Alabama Consortium on forestry education and research, 1993-1999.
- Schelhas, John; Sherman, Ruth E.; Fahey, Timothy J.; Lassoie, James P. 2002. Linking community and national park development: A case from the Dominican Republic.
- Schelhas, John; Buck, Louise E.; Geisler, Charles C.; Wollenberg, Eva, eds. 2001. Ecoregional management in southern Costa Rica: Finding a role for adaptive collaborative management.
- Nicholson, Charles F.; Blake, Robert W.; Reid, Robin S.; Schelhas, John. 2001. Environmental impacts of livestock on the developing world.
- Schelhas, John; Lassoie, James P. 2001. Learning Conservation and Sustainable Development: An Interdisciplinary Approach.
- Schelhas, John. 2000. Catalyzing sustainability: Cornell University's field practicum in conservation and sustainable development.
- Engaging African American Forest Owners in Sustainable Forest Management (2016)
- Baseline research was conducted in three southern U.S. states for a community- based outreach program: the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program. Research found that African American landowners placed a high value on their land because of links to family history and struggles to obtain it; yet land ownership was precarious, and few land ownerships were generating economic returns. Although past engagement in forestry was limited, forestry can be an attractive future option if barriers to technical and financial assistance are addressed.
- Strategies for Successful Engagement of African American Landowners in Forestry (2019)
- Following four years of operation of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program, USDA Forest Service scientists at the agency's Southern Research Station conducted qualitative research on the three longest running projects to identify lessons for success. The program succeeded through a sustained community-based effort. Lessons for success include addressing obstacles and constraints identified by prior research, establishing community-based networks to provide coordinated outreach and education, linking legal assistance for heirs’ property with forestry assistance, patiently engaging landowners through a process of forestry awareness and action, and resolving difficulties and maintaining momentum with regular feedback and problem solving.