First year at Bangor University: Module 1

Forest Resources and Assessment

Course objectives

Students will be introduced to world forest resources and policy. They will gain an understanding of the ecological information needed to implement forest policy, and for forest management and conservation: what is known already, what assessment and research methods are used, and how the results can be applied. Applications relate, in particular, to ecosystem services, sustainable forest management, criteria and indicators, and adaptive management. A key feature of the learning outcomes are practical skills in planning, carrying out, and analysing and interpreting the data from three forest assessments: (i) (tree) biodiversity; (ii) tree community and species population composition, structure and dynamics; (iii) natural regeneration and secondary succession. There is a strong emphasis on learning by doing.

Course content

The module will cover general principles relevant across a wide range of biomes, but primarily natural forests with high biodiversity, that are dominated by natural dynamic processes. Its focus is on the methods used to assess plant biodiversity, stand structure and dynamics, and analyse and interpret the resulting data. It is designed as a specialist module for which students will require knowledge of plant population and community ecology (from previous study or preparatory reading). Because of the limit of available time the module gives minimal coverage of ecological theory, natural history, animals or UK-specific methodologies. The module is dominated by practical sessions and there is a strong emphasis on learning by doing. The syllabus starts with an overview of world-forest resources (including the challenges of their definition and classification). It will assess the scale, rates, distribution and causes of deforestation and forest degradation. Then their implication of global and local ecosystem services will be considered. There will be a brief overview of forest policy issues, instruments and initiatives, leading to forest management and conservation. A brief overview of ecological theory and knowledge applied to forests is then provided, with emphasis on landscape ecology, forest dynamics, ecological diversity of tree species, the ecological basis of silviculture, and the maintenance of biodiversity. It incorporates an overview of welsh woodland and ecology as the context for the setting of the field practicals.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Seven two-hour sessions and one one-hour session. The two-hour sessions will comprise one hour of lecture and one hour of seminar. The one-hour session will be a seminar at the end.
  • Three all-day field trips incorporating 5 hours and 20 minutes of learning time each.
  • Three three-hour lab practicals.

Timing depends on module duration: Each lab practical should be on the day following the corresponding field practical.
In addition, the assessed seminar presentations will need to be timetabled near the end of the module.

Competences acquired

(i) Demonstrate understanding of the ecological information needed to implement forest policy and for forest management and conservation, (ii) Analyse and interpret existing information, (iii) Plan and carry out, analyse, present and interpret the results of plant biodiversity and ecological assessments, (iv) Demonstrate understanding of the principles and use of modelling, monitoring and experimentation, and (v) Make recommendations about the application of results for future forest assessment and management.