The concept of the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) was formulated in 1990 as a result of a Smithsonian Institution workshop that brought together leaders of industry, science, and conservation, to address the growing concern for the protection of tropical forests. Soon after, the TFF was established by the International Wood Products Association (IWPA), to foster dialogue and alliances between industry groups, to improve tropical forest management, and to enhance the economic value of tropical forests.
Shortly after its inception, TFF initiated a research and training program in Brazil under the Brazilian subsidiary, Fundacao Floresta Tropical (FFT). This program now reaches into the entire Amazon Region with training extension services complimenting a centralized and structured training program based at a forest training site in Cauaxi, Para State Since 1996, more than 2,000 individuals from logging companies, universities, and government agencies have received TFF RIL training in Brazil alone.
In 2000, TFF expanded its activities by starting a Southeast Asia program based in Indonesia. In 2002, another regional program in RIL training was initiated in Guyana. A further expansion occurred in early 2004 with the initiation of a Regional training program based in Gabon, West Africa.