Welcome to the Course

Welcome to this online course on “Sustainable Use of Forest Ecosystem Services”!

[FinalForestry Intro.mov to be embedded here when it is available.]

How to take the course?

The course is designed to be taken without an instructor. As a result, you will not be submitting any assignments. There are a number of self-tests throughout the course. To assist you in information exchange, there is an online discussion forum, Knowledge Café, for this course where you can post your insights, comments, inquiries, and other feedback about the topics to other participants of the course. Since this is a self-directed course, the Knowledge Café is a platform for sharing and expanding your online experiences, ideas and field observations with respect to each module. We hope that you will find the course enjoyable, and that you will learn a great deal about sustainable use of forest ecosystem services.

This online course quickly (briefly) will provide you with an understanding of the concept of sustainable forest management (SFM), and how it is related to economic development, economic growth, sustainable environmental development, sustainable development, and equity. It is very wide-ranging, and will delve into principle, criteria and indicators of SFM, and its meta-standards and forest management standards, such as:

  • Criteria and Indicators of Inter-governmental processes – e.g. Montreal and Helsinki Protocols & International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and International Organization for Standardization (ISO);
  • Principle and Criteria of Non-Governmental Organization – Forest Stewardship Council (FSC);
  • Criteria and Indicators of regional and/or country led standards initiatives;
  • Brief understanding of Rio +20, UNCBD (UN Convention on Biodiversity) and UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) within appropriate modules and topics.

The whole concept is then discussed from the perspective of managing tropical forest resources, and how forest resource degradation, drivers of deforestation, drivers of forest degradation, human factor, silviculture systems, conservation and forest management efforts, and forest dynamics are applied towards such complex tropical forest resource management. Finally, some forest management initiatives e.g. REDD+, and market-based instruments are introduced to the students before embarking into the proper valuations of forest ecosystem services.

How to advance in the course?

The course consists of six (6) sections called ‘Learning Modules’ which include the material for the course, self-tests, and additional reading material and resources. The modules are not equal in length: Modules #1 is designed to be introductory – revisiting the concept of sustainable development, and #6 focuses on application of forest ecosystem services valuation (including biodiversity), and involves a case study approach. The main focus of forest ecosystem services are in Modules #2 to #5. The course is designed as a 3-credit hour course, which would be undertaken on a weekly schedule of 3 one-hour sessions, with students putting in 6 – 9 more hours per week to digest additional reading material and resources provided in the course. Under this schedule, students should complete the 6 modules in 42 hours within 14 weeks. However, this is just a suggested schedule; you can move through the course at a pace that suites you.

What’s my advice?

A word of advice: It is sometimes difficult to establish a routine for an online course, especially one that is not supervised in any way.  It is very easy to put it on the back burner! My best advice to you is to set regular times during the week dedicated to the course.