Forest Ecology and Forest Management


About this course

The main objectives of this course are 1) to provide an overview of the state of the art in the fields of forest ecology and forest management, and 2) how we can integrate the two fields as a basis for sustainable forest management for the provisioning of forest resources and other ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation). Sustainable forest management requires a sound knowledge of the environment and ecological functioning of the forest. Through the application of management treatments, one can intervene in the natural dynamics of the forest and guide the forest into a predefined, direction (management goal). In the course we will use examples from temperate and tropical forests.

The course starts with lectures on forest ecology. We first discuss environmental conditions such as soil type and resource availability (light, water and nutrients), and how these abiotic factors vary in space and time. We then evaluate the causes and mechanisms of forest succession by focusing on: 1) disturbances that determine the availability of open sites, and how species differ in 2) availability, and 3) performance. This provides an ideal framework to understand forest functioning, and how management interventions can affect forest regeneration and dynamics and steer succession. The lectures on forest management will increase your understanding and knowledge about the effects of a variety of management practices, such as thinning, on ecological processes. Additionally, we will explain the underlying mechanisms and processes of some of the major silvicultural systems in temperate and tropical forests.
Three excursions will be made to Dutch forest sites to clarify and illustrate ecological concepts in the field.
The course will be completed with a three week practical during which you and your group design a silvicultural system for a Dutch forest based on specific objectives and using the knowledge obtained during the course. A forest inventory is part of this practical.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • Explain the state of the art of the ecology and management of temperate and tropical forests, considering the strengths and limitations of the current paradigms
  • Summarize the causes and mechanisms of natural succession
  • Explain how silvicultural interventions can be applied to mimic natural disturbances and steer forest regeneration, -development, and –succession
  • Compare different forest management systems in temperate and tropical forest in relation to their underlying ecological and silvicultural mechanisms
  • Evaluate forest structure and composition using the most appropriate forest inventory techniques
  • Design a sustainable silvicultural system for a specific forest, taking into account the management objectives, environmental conditions, species ecology, and ecological processes

Required prior knowledge

Mandatory Knowledge:
ZSS06200 Fieldwork Safety
Assumed Knowledge:
Bachelors in Biology, Forest and Nature Conservation, Plant Science, Resource Management or similar fields

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    10 March 2025

    • Ends
      2 May 2025
    • Term *
      Period 5
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 9 Feb 2025
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University