This program consists of four online 8-week courses, a yearlong project capstone and an optional one-week field course.

The 2020-2021 delivery runs June 1, 2020-May 3, 2021. The program schedule for 2021-2022 is coming soon.


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


Amy Vedder

Key themes

  • Project planning
  • Situational analysis
  • Stakeholder identification and analysis
  • Prioritizing strategies and implementation
  • Planning for impact
  • 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


Mark Ashton, Liza Comita, Benjamin Cashore, Carol Carpenter, Amity Doolittle, Eva Garen, Florencia Montagnini, Oswald Schmitz and international guest contributors

Key themes

  • Drivers of land-use change: policies, markets, economics and trends
  • Motivations for conservation and restoration
  • Tropical forest ecosystems and ecosystem resilience
  • Disturbance and regeneration
  • Knowledge systems, disciplines and perspectives
  • Planning interventions with a critical eye
  • Designing sustainable management interventions in complex landscapes

Build your skills

  • Evaluate historical context and perspectives and how they influence current social dynamics and land uses
  • Understand and leverage ecological processes and nature when considering conservation and restoration strategies
  • Incorporate knowledge from many disciplines and perspectives into project and program design and planning
  • Recognize assumptions and biases of interventions and unintended consequences
  • Manage the overlap between conservation, restoration and land use for multiple objectives


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


Eva Garen, Carol Carpenter, Amity Doolittle, Bill Weber and international guest contributors

Key themes

  • Role of social science in conservation and restoration
  • Indigenous and traditional knowledge
  • Property rights, power and privilege
  • Community-based conservation
  • Governance: who’s making decisions and why
  • Participatory research
  • Integrating livelihoods
  • Dialogue, conflict-resolution and capacity building
  • Monitoring social indicators

Build your skills

  • Understand the larger socio-economic and political contexts that drive the actions of people and communities in forest landscapes
  • Examine and “unpack” the complexities and stratification of communities and stakeholder groups
  • Understand customary systems of land tenure along with local and traditional knowledge to support sustainable practices
  • Understand how management and access to resources is differentiated by gender and social status, and how to adapt activities so as not to exacerbate inequities
  • Promote and facilitate dialogue among multiple stakeholders
  • Monitor social change and other indicators of socio-economic and political outcomes of conservation and restoration initiatives


Strategies: Implementing and Monitoring Techniques

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

  •   October 19 - December 13, 2020
  •   8-Week Online Course


Mark Ashton, Oswald Schmitz, Florencia Montagnini and international guest contributors

Key themes

  • Conservation science and strategies
  • Restoration science and strategies
  • Sustainable production: Timber and non-timber forest products
  • Sustainable production: agroforestry and on-farm restoration
  • Ecosystem services: soil, water, carbon
  • Ecosystem services: biodiversity and species conservation
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Payments for ecosystem services and cost benefit analysis
  • Prioritizing and monitoring strategies

Build your skills

  • Determine priorities for conservation and restoration policies and programs at local, national and international levels
  • Evaluate the degree of degradation, relevant landscape elements and social drivers of landscape change (past, current, future) to determine appropriate strategies
  • Incorporate considerations about animals and plant diversity into conservation and restoration decision-making
  • Understand the ecological value of the agricultural matrix and how agroforestry and silvopastoral systems can advance conservation, restoration and production goals of agricultural landscapes
  • Identify and quantify potential revenue streams from anticipated conservation and restoration interventions
  • Plan for and monitor the sustainability of conservation and restoration interventions so that goals can be met while maintaining the vitality of ecosystems and meeting needs of different stakeholders


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 21, 2021
  •   8-Week Online Course


Bradford Gentry and international guest contributors

Key themes

  • Review estimated costs and benefits
  • Financial concepts and project planning
  • Individual and community sources of funding
  • Charitable sources of funding
  • Public sources of funding
  • Private/for-profit sources of funding
  • New and emerging sources of funding
  • Assessing and combining different funding types

Build your skills

  • Identify potential funding sources (individual, community, charitable, public, for-profit and emerging), as well as strategies to secure funding and address associated trade-offs
  • Understand how the potential for revenue influences decision-making about which funding sources are most appropriate for different conservation and restoration initiatives
  • Develop a funding model, building from your estimates of project costs and benefits, and assess the risks and opportunities for private/for-profit investment to help fund your initiatives
  • Incorporate considerations of effective communication with potential project funders
  • Build an approach to track the financial performance of your initiative
  • Recognize how different contexts - type of project, location, other factors - enable or limit access to different kinds of funding


Field Course (Optional): Tropical Forest Landscape 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.

  •   January 10-16, 2021 (tentative)
  •   Field Course


See Instruction Team listing - faculty vary based on location.


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

Possible locations for the field course for the cohort of 2019-2020:


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 partners: Center for Research on Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems (CIPAV); El Hatico Nature Reserve

ELTI's Colombia site is located in and around Valle del Cauca, Cali. It includes a network of sites representing industrial and organic sugarcane production, sustainable cattle ranching within a tropical dry forest ecosystem and coffee agroforestry systems and watershed restoration in Andean montane regions. The primary field site is an estate managed over nine generations and an international reference for sustainable agriculture.


Primary partner: Institute for Ecological Research (IPÊ)

ELTI’s field sites in Brazil are located in two regions of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. One site is a critical watershed area that supplies water to nine million people living the Sao Paulo metropolitan area and comprises a mosaic of cattle pastures, forest plantations and water supply reservoirs. Another site is in Pontal do Paranapanema where biodiversity and livelihoods depend on the land use practices applied by the people who manage and influence these landscapes.


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.


Primary partners: Tropenbos and the Ministry of Environment & Forestry's Research and Development Institute for Natural Resource Conservation Technology.

ELTI’s Indonesia site is located in East Kalimantan, Borneo. The region is comprised of a mosaic of coal mines, oil palm, rubber and timber plantations, smallholder agriculture and forests. Since 2012, ELTI has been helping restore coal mine sites and facilitate forest rehabilitation in the region. ELTI's site includes a 1800-hectare restoration site, a timber plantation, an ecotourism site, protected forests and a coal mine.