REG-31306 Trends in Forest and Nature Conservation


Studiepunten 6.00

Individual Paper2
Course coordinator(s)dr. M Holmgren
Lecturer(s)dr. P Vergeer
dr. M Holmgren
prof. dr. PA Zuidema
O Human
Examiner(s)dr. M Holmgren
prof. dr. PA Zuidema
dr. P Vergeer

Language of instruction:



TRENDS in Forest and Nature Conservation is developed by the four chair-groups (REG, PEN, FNP and FEM) teaching the Master Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN) programme and some external invited speakers. The course is directed to first year students from the Master in Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN) programme and complemented with students from other master programs.

The course addresses the current challenges and trends in conservation and ecosystem management from ecological and social perspectives. Conservation attitudes, targets and strategies have changed dramatically in the last four decades (Mace 2014, Science 345: 1558-1560). In this course we analyze 6 trends in nature conservation. Each of these trends is explored within one thematic block through a series of lectures and the discussion in groups of one scientific paper. Students further reflect on these trends through individual essay writing and a group science-based communication project aimed at a broad public audience.
Block 1: Resilience of socio-ecological systems. Trend: Increasing awareness of the potential persistence and irreversibility of alternative states in socio-ecological systems.
Block 2: Governance and Policy. Trend: Recognition of the cultural plurality in visions of nature and knowledge on ecological systems including indigenous people and different ways of governing nature and their effectiveness.
Block 3: Protect versus Manage (Spare vs. Share). Trend: Increasing recognition that most nature is not pristine and value conservation also in managed ecosystems.
Block 4: Ecosystem approach. Trend: Recognition of the importance of species interactions for maintaining the structure, functioning and biodiversity of ecosystems.
Block 5: Success Stories. Trend: Environmental scientists and conservation professionals understand the need of highlighting not only the problems but also the successes.
Block 6: Manifesting science. Trend: Environmental scientists and practitioners are increasingly aware of the need to communicate more effectively with broad and diverse audiences.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- analyse emerging trends in conservation science using ecological and social sciences;
- evaluate the scientific evidence underlying a conservation approach;
- assess scientific papers critically;
- write a scientific essay that analyses an emergent trend in conservation;
- communicate current ideas on conservation to a broader public.


The course uses a combination of working forms:
- classical lectures grouped in 6 thematic blocks. Each block explores one emerging trend in conservation;
- group discussions on assigned scientific papers. Teams are formed by students from both natural and social sciences;
- individual essay writing. Students freely choose the particular topic but it should be framed within one or more of the thematic trends discussed in the course. The essay should address both ecological and social aspects of the conservation trend analysed;
- group communication assignment with free topic and media of expression. Communication assignments are presented to the whole class;
- we have practical and supervised sessions for the reading, writing and communication assignments.


Students are evaluated through 4 assignments:
- assignment 1: Reading critically (10%);
- assignment 2: Individual essay (45%);
- assignment 3: Communicating effectively (15%);
- assignment 4: Final examination (30%).


Course outline and reader are provided online.

Keuze voor: MFNForest and Nature ConservationMSc1AF