This program builds on ELTI's decade of experience with high-touch, experiential online learning.

Program Structure

This program consists of:

  • Four core courses, each with eight weeklong modules containing educational content and assignments for you to learn and practice skills.
  • One yearlong capstone project course, which contains educational content and assignments along with detailed guidance and expert feedback for you to develop an implementable project plan.
  • One optional field course, which includes site visits, field exercises and teamwork so you can apply what you learned online into practice on the ground.

Read more about courses  


What to expect?

Access high quality content, engage with diverse participants and experts and build your skills. The program is designed to be flexible with your work schedules and committments, requiring around six hours of coursework per week. 

Educational Content

Engage with the course themes through 130+ recorded video lectures and case studies presented by 70+ international guest experts. Additionally, participants access curated course libraries containing cutting-edge scientific research, synthesis papers and practical guides.

Video: Lead instructor, Dr. Eva Garen, provides an overview of the weekly content during the People course.

Interaction and feedback

Connect with peers and instructors in real-time during regular 60-75 minute live sessions. During these sessions, you will interact with instructors and guest speakers, share insights in small groups and engage in peer-to-peer feedback.  Throughout the program, participants receive instructor feedback and peer review on course assignments. 

Image: Peer-to-peer live discussion among participants of the 2020-2021 program cohort.

Practical assignments

Apply concepts learned, exchange with your peers and develop your capstone project through regular assignments. These practical activities include guided skill-building exercises, weekly reflections, written project essays and analyses, capstone project documents and peer-to-peer presentations. 

Image: Dr. Amy Vedder describes a Capstone exercise to assess and prioritize project strategies.


Capstone Project

Develop or improve an implementable project plan built on goals, strategies, partnerships and monitoring impacts.

  •   June 1, 2020 – May 3, 2021
  •   Yearlong Capstone Project

Lead Instructor

Dr. Amy Vedder

Course Overview (2020)

Key themes

  • Project planning
  • Situational analysis
  • Stakeholder identification and analysis
  • Prioritizing strategies and implementation
  • Planning for impacts
  • Monitoring concepts and tools

Build your skills

  • Design and plan a specific conservation and restoration project—these can be field initiatives, policies, and programs at any scale
  • Practice concepts and tools of each course and apply them to your initiative
  • Receive feedback from faculty members, mentors and peers
  • Learn about the initiatives that your peers are planning
  • Boost your presentation skills
  • Create a robust project plan for your initiative and develop skills to make it happen


Fundamentals: Ecological and Social Concepts

Kick off the program by building an understanding of the fundamental ecological and social considerations for planning effective conservation and restoration initiatives.

  •   June 1 - July 26, 2020
  •   8-Week Online Course

Lead Instructor

Dr. Alicia Calle

Course Overview (2020)

Key themes

  • Motivations for conservation and restoration
  • Tropical forest ecology
  • Ecological resilience and recovery
  • Forest disturbance and regeneration
  • People in the landscape
  • Global environmental policy and governance
  • Knowledge systems and perspectives
  • Monitoring and adaptive management

Build your skills

  • Learn ecological principles that govern the disturbance and recovery of tropical ecosystems
  • Understand and leverage ecological processes when considering conservation and restoration strategies
  • Evaluate historical context and perspectives and how they influence current social dynamics and land uses
  • Learn how governance and social dynamics influence different motivations and opportunities for conservation and restoration
  • Incorporate knowledge from many disciplines and perspectives into project and program design and planning
  • Learn about monitoring and evaluation and how careful design of a monitoring strategy is instrumental to project success



People: Community and Institutional Engagement

Learn about the socio-economic and political contexts that drive the actions and decisions of diverse stakeholders in forest landscapes.

  •   August 10 - October 4, 2020
  •   8-Week Online Course

Lead Instructors

Dr. Eva Garen & Dr. Amity Doolittle

Course Overview (2020)

Key themes

  • Social science in conservation and restoration
  • Stakeholder and community heterogeneity
  • Property rights and land tenure
  • Community conservation and restoration
  • Governance: Who is making decisions and why?
  • Participatory research
  • Integrating livelihoods and human well-being
  • Tools and processes for engagement

Build your skills

  • Evaluate existing assumptions and biases and recognize unintended consequences of activities
  • Understand the larger socio-economic and political contexts that drive the actions of people and communities in forest landscapes
  • Examine and “unpack” the complexities of political and social stratification in communities and stakeholder groups
  • Recognize how management and access to resources differ among stakeholders and learn how to adapt activities to avoid exacerbating inequalities
  • Develop an understanding of various land tenure and knowledge systems in order to support sustainable practices
  • Apply tools and frameworks to engage people and institutions in different contexts and at varying scales 


Strategies: Land Use Planning and Implementation

Develop the skills to assess, select and plan conservation and restoration strategies that are inclusive of social, biophysical and financial goals and are adapted to site-specific conditions.

  •   October 19 - December 14, 2020
  •   8-Week Online Course

Lead Instructors

Dr. Florencia Montagnini, Dr. Alicia Calle, Dr. Oswald Schmitz

Course Overview (2020)

Key themes

  • Landscape approaches to planning conservation and restoration
  • Species conservation and landscape ecology
  • Restoration strategies: passive to active
  • Sustainable forest management
  • Agroforestry and on-farm restoration
  • Soils, water and ecosystem services
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Payment for ecosystem services

Build your skills

  • Understand the importance of a landscape approach to conservation and restoration to preserve ecological functionality in multi-use landscapes
  • Analize how the degree of degradation, relevant landscape elements and social drivers of landscape change (past, current, future) influence appropriate strategies
  • Evaluate the range of land use interventions, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to apply conservation and restoration activities
  • Learn how the sustainable management of forests and agricultural lands can advance conservation, restoration and production goals in mosaic landscapes
  • Identify the principles underlying key ecosystem services (soil conservation, water filtration, biodiversity conservation, carbon storage and climate change resiliency) and design interventions that promote their recovery
  • Learn basic principles for the design of payments for ecosystem services schemes


Funding: Financial Concepts and Tools

Learn about sources of funding for conservation and restoration and how you might decide which sources to pursue. 

  •   January 25 – March 20, 2021
  •   8-Week Online Course

Lead Instructors

Bradford Gentry, JD and Namrita Kapur, MBA/MEM

Course Overview (2020)

Key themes

  • Different sources of funding
  • Financial concepts 101
  • How much funding do you need?
  • Attracting gifts from chatitable sources
  • Qualifying for public grant funding
  • Generating cash flows from the land
  • Attracting private, for-profit investment
  • Assessing and combining different funding types

Build your skills

  • Understand how the potential for revenue influences decision-making about which funding sources are most appropriate for conservation and restoration initiatives
  • Assess the relevance, risks and opportunities for charitable donations, public programs and for-profit investment to your proposed initiatives
  • Identify potential funding sources, learn strategies to secure funding and address associated trade-offs
  • Develop a funding model, building from estimates of project costs and benefits and learn how to track the financial performance
  • Recognize how different contexts - type of project, location, other factors - enable or limit access to different kinds of funding
  • Consider how best to communicate with potential project funders, so that funding “pitches” can best meet their needs and expectations

Field Course (Optional): Conservation and Restoration in Practice

Immerse for one week in the tropics, apply theory to practice and learn about what is happening on the ground.

  •   Postponed until after the COVID-19 pandemic
  •   6-Day Field Course

Lead Instructors

Field instructors vary based on location. See Field Experts

Participants of the 2019-2020 cohort engage in field exercises and community visits during the January 2020 field course on Leyte Island, Philippines.

Build your skills

  • Visit demonstration sites where conservation and restoration initiatives take place
  • See in detail what is takes to make a project plan become an initiative carried out on the ground
  • Meet environmental leaders — including land owners, farmers, ranchers and extension workers — who are making a difference in the field
  • Practice skills that you gained in the online courses and capstone project
  • Enhance your teamwork skills and develop a community with your peers, instructors and environmental leaders in the topics

  Possible locations

Each year, the field course will take place at one of ELTI's five training landscapes in Panama, Philippines, Indonesia, Colombia or Brazil. Location will be determined based on the interest and availability of accepted participants.  Potential locations for the field course for 2021-2022:


Primary partners: Achotines Research Station and the Association of Livestock; Agro-Silvopastoral Producers of Pedasí (APASPE)

ELTI’s Panama site is located in the Azuero Peninsula. This region is a largely deforested dry tropical ecosystem comprised of a mosaic landscape of cattle ranching, subsistence and commercial agriculture, tourism development and forest fragments. The site contains an ecological interpretative trail network and demonstration areas. Since 2009, ELTI has been working with local landholders to integrate forest cover into these landscapes via riparian forest restoration, agroforestry and silvopastoral systems.


Primary partner: Visayas State University (VSU)

ELTI’s Philippines site is on the island of Leyte. The landscape is largely dominated by the production of corn, coconuts, sugarcane and irrigated rice. ELTI has been working with VSU since 2009 to promote native species reforestation efforts in the region, using a network of demonstration sites that focus on community-based restoration. ELTI and VSU are currently working with a series of municipal governments and people’s organizations to rehabilitate watershed areas damaged by typhoons.