FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical31
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. M Peña Claros
Lecturer(s)L Goudzwaard
dr. ir. J den Ouden
prof. dr. FJJM Bongers
dr. M de Jong
prof. dr. ir. L Poorter
dr. M Peña Claros
Examiner(s)dr. M Peña Claros

Language of instruction:


Mandatory knowledge:

ZSS06200 Fieldwork Safety

Assumed knowledge on:

Bachelors in Biology, Forest and Nature Conservation, Plant Science, Resource Management or similar fields BIS

Continuation courses:

Recommended for students interested in doing their thesis at the Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group.


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 consists of four elements: lectures on forest ecology, lectures on forest management, field excursions, and a practical, in which you spend a considerable time in the forest.
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 weeks practical in which you 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.


- lectures;
- field excursions (participation is obligatory);
- forest inventory and data analysis;
- practical on the design of silvicultural system for a Dutch forest;
- oral presentation of the silvicultural system designed during the practical. 


Grades are based on:
- written examination (70%);
- report on practical (30%).
You need 5.5 or higher for each component to pass the course.


A course reader will be available (and it can be obtained at cost price at the WUR-shop).

Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScD: Spec. D - Ecology5AF
MFNForest and Nature ConservationMScC: Spec. C - Ecology5AF
MFNForest and Nature ConservationMScB: Spec. B - Management5AF