NIGA13000U Tree Biology and Arboriculture

Volume 2013/2014
MSc Programme in Landscape Architecture

Woody plants dominate most vegetations on Earth, and provide microclimate, habitats, and ressources for a profusion of other life forms, including humans. Direct tree products include timber, fibre, biomass, fruit, and secondary substances with innumerable economical uses.

Irrespective of the purpose for growing trees, successful establishment, good growth and health, and high stress tolerance are important. The course aims at improving the quality and economy of tree growing by providing an understanding of tree biology in relation to natural environments and cultural practises. The course is aimed at future tree managers in forests and plantations, parks and urban forests, woody plant producers and biologists with particular interest in woody plants.

The main objective of the course is to provide a biological understanding of trees as living systems, and on how management affect the trees. The course includes basic tree anatomy and physiology, growth patterns and tree architecture, adaptations and reactions towards stress factors, the mechanical and physiological challenges of a large plant body, phenology and seasonal cues, ageing and rejuvenation, and competition within and among species. Focus is on tree properties and tree ecology of importance for propagation, establishment and growth. The topics include: tree architecture, biomass allocation, tree crown and root system functionality; phenology and dormancy; maturity and aging, adaptive traits and reactions towards environmental challenges such as frost, drought, fire, wind, snow, inundation. These topics are discussed in relation to silvicultural and arboricultural practises and uses. 

The course will refer to practical issues such as nursery plant production, establishment of plantings, thinning, pruning, and management related to water balance and environmental stresses, and social stability of stands.

The course combines theory with practice and as such leads to competencies within both basic and applied sciences. Competences within basic science include application of a comprehensive basic knowledge about autecological and ecophysiological tree biology. Competences within applied science relate in particular to the management of trees, including establishment and management at young and old ages.

Responsibilities of tree managers in relation to global challenges, sustainability and safety will be discussed during the course.

Learning Outcome
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:


1. Describe central features of trees’ biology, including a) basic anatomy and architecture, b) carbohydrate, water and nutrient cycling, c) annual variation in life functions and d) life stages of the tree. A central issue in this respect is to compare how trees and non-woody plants differ from each other.


2. Apply techniques and theory from the course to efficiently manage trees with respect to establishment, shape, stability and safety in urban and rural environments, including

a. Assessment of growth and growth patterns
b. Evaluation of nursery stock quality and propagation methods
c. Design and successful establishment of stands and solitary plantings
d. Detection of signs of ageing and poor health in trees and
e. On this basis make informed decisions and propose actions in relation to tree management


3. Collect and summarize relevant knowledge to solve stated problems related to management of trees

4. Predict how trees will perform in different environments (urban and rural, open/forested) and how they will be affected by changes in their environments, including drought, water logging, frost, and climatic change

5. Critically review other students work and (self)reflect on good learning.
A compendium will be available at the LIFE book store. Supplementary literature will be suggested during the course.
In preparation or succession of this course we recommend related courses in silviculture, tree patology, wood technology, and agroforestry.
Lectures: Interactive lectures by use of dialogue-based and problem-oriented teaching, small discussion groups and interactive e-tools

Field exercises and excursions: (Should include training in practical aspects such as pruning and planting).

Self-assessments: Questionnaires and tests on selected subjects to provide feedback to students and teachers on understanding of central concepts.

Project work: During the course four projects/synopses will be made. The projects are based on four themes covering broad aspects of tree biology and management. Laboratory work may be included as part of the project work, especially with microscope exercises. Each project will result in a synopsis to be presented at the exam.

Peer assessment: Each group will comment on another groups’ synopsis after the synopses have been handed in. Based on the feedback a revised synopsis may be submitted.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Excursions
  • 12
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Practical exercises
  • 18
  • Preparation
  • 69
  • Project work
  • 67
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
Description of Examination: Questions will refer to synopses submitted during the course
Exam registration requirements
Synopses must be submitted after each section. Students must successfully complete at least 75% in order to participate in the exam.
Only certain aids allowed
It is allowed to bring own synopses to the exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Flere interne bedømmere
Criteria for exam assesment

In relation to “Describe central features of trees’ biology”: Being able to compare and contrast the biology of different plant (tree) groups and theorize on the functional significance of differences and their ecological implications

In relation to “Predict how trees will perform in different environments”: For common environments or stresses, being able to predict performance of different species groups. Based on physiology and phenology, ability to compare and contrast different stress situations

In relation to “Apply techniques and theory from the course to efficiently manage trees”: Ability to design management plans and interventions demonstrating originality, propose alternative management options and justify choices based on relevant literature