Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively (TELE) is a project of the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative (SFFI). SFFI began in 2004 as an ad hoc collaboration of universities, government agencies, industry, conservation organizations, certification systems, and landowners and continues to serve as a resource to these sectors. TELE is a program of the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative, headquartered at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. It is presently funded largely through a grant from the USDA Forest Service, and with funds from the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Family-owned lands present our biggest conservation challenge in the United States. Thirty-six percent of the forest in the United States is owned by families, and this percentage is the most at risk of being fragmented and converted for development. In fact, nearly one million acres of our forests are developed each year. 

Only 20-30% of these owners are currently served by conservation and sustainable forest management programs. TELE provides a practical set of tools to help conservation and forestry professionals reach more landowners with effective stewardship messages that align with their needs and values as landowners. 

About the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative

Established in 2004, The Sustaining Family Forests Initiative is a collaboration between the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Center for Nonprofit Strategies, aimed at gaining and disseminating comprehensive knowledge about family forest owners throughout the United States. The basis of our work is to apply a targeted marketing approach—the use of commercial marketing techniques to affect positive social change—as a promising means by which to influence family forest owners to take steps to conserve and sustainably manage their land. Since 2010, SFFI has trained over 880 natural resource professionals in 29 states in landowner outreach. These professionals work in nineteen states and represent more than 300 organizations, primarily state forestry agencies and their conservation and stewardship partners.

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