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.

The TELE Approach

Landowners are as diverse as the rest of the population. They have different priorities, beliefs and lifestyles. They have their own ideas about land ownership and land stewardship. They get their information from different sources and weigh this information accordingly.

Rather than using a broad-brush approach that tries to appeal to everyone, TELE uses a methodology called targeted marketing.  Targeted marketing means designing communications that bring about a specific behavior change in a selected group of people. It seeks to reach people through their preferred channels, using messages that are most likely to appeal to them based on an understanding of their specific values, preferences, and other characteristics.  
The TELE approach applies targeted marketing principles to natural resource challenges and landowner outreach. Through our workshops, project support, and resources, we help you address conservation challenges by creating specific programs and materials that directly tap the imagination and values of different types of audiences to motivate and support good stewardship practices on the ground.


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. SFFI began 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. 

Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively (TELE) is a project of the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative (SFFI). TELE was developed out of the need to translate SFFI’s landowner research into a practical methodology that could be used by natural resource professionals to achieve land management and conservation goals. Since an initial 6-state pilot project (Call Before You Cut) launched in 2009, TELE has grown into an education and resource program serving natural resource professionals across the country. By the end of 2018, TELE will have hosted more than 50 workshops in more than 30 states, training more than 1,500 people directly.