Student information

Trends in Forest and Nature Conservation, WEC-31306

TRENDS in Forest and Nature Conservation is developed by the four chair-groups (WEC, PEN, FNP and FEM) teaching the Master Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN) programme.

The course reflects on major trends in conservation science from ecological and social perspectives and explores these through lectures, discussion groups, individual assignments and case studies. During the course, students practice how to critically evaluate scientific papers, how to work together in co-creating conservation solutions and how to write an essay that discusses the scientific evidence behind a chosen trend in conservation and management.

The course is for first year students from the Master in Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN) programme and is complemented by students from other master programs.

For whom?

For all MSc students Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN)

By whom?

Presented by the four main chair groups of the study:

  • WEC Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
  • FEM Forest Ecology and Forest Management
  • FNP  Forest and Nature Conservation Policy
  • PEN Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation

Learning objectives

After the course, the student is 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
  • Produce a science-based output that analyses emerging trends in conservation

    The principal themes of the course

    Conservation attitudes, targets and strategies have changed dramatically in the last four decades, shifting:

    • From understanding ecological systems as having easily predictable responses to environmental change to an increasing awareness of nonlinear dynamics and sometimes unpredictable outcomes;
    • From an understanding of nature embodied by landscapes with low human influence towards a pragmatic acceptance of disturbance and an utilitarian value of nature as provider of services;
    • From using single disciplinary approaches to a growing awareness that guidelines for conservation and management need to be evidence-based and that inter-disciplinarity is key to understand and provide evidence on how socio-ecological systems function;
    • From targeting particular populations or ecological communities to addressing conservation and management of complex interlinked socio-ecological ecosystems;
    • From remaining in academic circles towards an increasing engagement and communication with broad social audiences.


    The course uses a combination of working forms:

    • Lectures
    • Serious games
    • Group discussions: paper discussions in small groups followed by an individually written critical review
    • Group assignment where emerging trends in conservation will be explored using a case study
    • Individual essay writing


    Students are evaluated through three (3) assignments:

    • Assignment 1: Critical reading (10 %)
    • Assignment 2: Group assignment (40 %)
    • Assignment 3: Essay (50 %)

    The grades for each assignment will remain valid for 1 academic year. Minimum grade of each assignment should be  ≥ 5.5 to complete the course successfully.

    Teaching team


    • Femke Broekhuis
    • Milena Holmgren
    • Nowello Anyango-van Zwieten
    • Philippine Vergeer
    • Pieter Zuidema

    Teaching assistants

    • Janneke Troost
    • Francisca Araújo e Sá Virtuoso