NIFK23001U Systems of Sustainable Forest Management

Volume 2023/2024

MSc in Global Forestry


This course introduces you to sustainable forest management’s biophysical and political foundations. Emphasis is on the biological definitions and silvicultural systems of sustainable forest management, including why middle and low-income countries often fail to implement them. The lerning methods include a combination of guided readings, in-class discussions and exercises, and online discussions and tests.

The course is organised under the themes of; (i) Forests as a Gaia/Planet Earth component: biogeography, biodiversity, ecology, (ii) Sustained yield and harvesting regimes in natural forests, including forest inventory and growth predictions, (iii) Silvicultural management systems in natural, semi-natural, and plantation forests, and (iv) The political ecology of scientific forest management, including the colonial legacy of empire forestry.

Learning Outcome

After finishing the course, students are expected to be able to:


  • Understand foresty’s potential and biophysical limitations in contributing to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in middle and low-income countries.
  • Understand key contemporary issues in global forestry, including estimations of sustainable levels of harvesting, biophysically sustainable vs. sustained-yield forestry; silvicultural systems for sustainable utilisation of natural and semi-natural forests; the opportunities and risks of plantation forestry; the linkages between sustainable forestry paradigms, forest policy, observable practices, and how sustainable forestry might be achieved.
  • Describe/define scientific forestry/empire forestry, including its effects on contemporary forest management regimes.



  • Apply principles, theories, and frameworks of ecosystems to sustainable forestry schemes in case studies.
  • Judge the quality of scientific publications and dominant paradigms on sustainable forestry.
  • Apply principles of political ecology in the analysis of concrete cases of forest management and conservation
  • Communicate concisely and confidently in written format



  • Argue convincingly and think critically within the parameters of a particular academic discipline.
  • Reflect on the concept of biophysically sustainable forestry and the role of forests in promoting sustainability, especially concerning sustainable development goal no. 15, Life on Land.
  • Reflect on the role of scientific forestry/forest management regimes in relation to access to natural resources, livelihoods and citizen involvement.
  • Demonstrate the values of scholarship: inquiry, reflection, integrity, open-mindedness, evidence-based thinking, and collegiality.
  • Tackle problems by collecting, analysing, and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information and using it creatively.

Course materials include selected scientific articles, book chapters, lecture notes, video clips, and slideshows. These are all accessible through the course homepage.

The course draws on basic elements of ecology, economics, policy, and management of renewable natural resources, all or part of which a wide range of undergraduate programmes offer.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The course is provided through classroom and online teaching and learning. Modules focus on integrating literature studies and exercises, including online discussions mediated by faculty. Exercises focus on understanding theory and applying theory on actual cases.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Preparation
  • 134
  • E-Learning
  • 24
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, made during the block
Type of assessment details
Students are assessed through an individual teacher-marked assignment (essay) to be handed in by the end of the course.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner.

Same as for the ordinary exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

To obtain grade 12, the student must fulfil the Learning Outcomes