FEM-30306 Advanced Forest Ecology and Forest Management


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Practical extensively supervised20
Field Practical35
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. L Poorter
Lecturer(s)dr. M Peña Claros
prof. dr. ir. L Poorter
prof. dr. FJJM Bongers
dr. ir. J den Ouden
L Goudzwaard
dr. ir. FJ Sterck
prof. dr. PA Zuidema
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. L Poorter

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

BIS-10306, FEM-22306, FEM-20909

Continuation courses:

Thesis Forest ecology and forest management


The main objective of this course is to integrate our current knowledge on the ecology of forests and how forests interact with the environment, with the management practices of forests as a basis for achieving sustainability. Applying sustainable management of forests requires a sound knowledge of their ecological functioning and environmental interactions. Forests have their own dynamics which are largely determined by the site conditions, the species pool, and the structure of the forest. Active management by means of silvicultural treatments can be viewed as intervening in the natural dynamics of the forest in order to guide the forest into a certain, predefined, direction (management goal). Traditionally, management goals were strongly directed towards the production of wood. Nowadays, however, forests are viewed and treated as ecological systems in which management interventions must be related to the ecological characteristics of the forest as well as its component species.
The course consists of the following four elements: lectures on forest ecology; lectures on forest management, field trips, and practical.
The course starts with a series of lectures on forest ecology in order to increase your understanding of the ecological functioning of forests. We briefly focus on the different aspects of the forest environment such as soil type and nutrient, water and light availability, and how these abiotic factors vary in time and space. Considerable attention will be paid to forest dynamics, succession and regeneration processes, and how various disturbances affect these processes. Examples of temperate and tropical forests will be discussed. The lectures on forest management will increase your understanding and knowledge about the effects of a variety of management treatments, such as thinning, pruning, and seedling enrichment, on forest ecological processes. A close link will be made with forest ecology discussed earlier. Besides examining the impact of several forest management treatments on the functioning of forests, the focus will be on explaining the underlying mechanisms and processes of some major silvicultural systems in the world. There are several field trips scheduled to Dutch forest sites to clarify and illustrate the various ecological topics. The course will be completed with a practical in which you do a forest inventory and design a silvicultural system for a Dutch forest based on specific objectives and using the ecological knowledge obtained during the course.

Learning outcomes:

After this course the student is expected to be able to:
- describe the major ecological processes in temperate and tropical forests;
- recognize and explain the relation between environment and forest functioning;
- comprehend and predict the effect of different disturbances on forest processes;
- analyze the important factors that determine tree and forest growth and production;
- point out the underlying mechanisms of a variety of forest management systems;
- predict the impact of management interventions on ecological processes. Finally, the student will be able to:
- evaluate forest functioning and apply management techniques to improve this;
- design a sustainable silvicultural system based on a set of specific objectives.


- attendance of lectures on the ecology and management of forests;
- participate in field excursions to several forest management systems in the Netherlands;
- do a forest inventory and analyze data;
- design of a specific management plan for a Dutch forest.
You are required to attend all elements of the course.


- two written examinations (30% and 40%);
- practical work and presentation (30%).


The course reader can be obtained at cost price at the WUR Shop.

Restricted Optional for: MFNForest and Nature ConservationMScC: Ecology5AF
MFNForest and Nature ConservationMScB: Management5AF