Forest Management and Biodiversity across Europe

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International on-site postgraduate course

Forest Management and Biodiversity across Europe

Sunday 10 – Sunday 17 September 2023

Białowieża, Poland 



Europe’s forests represent a large variety of ecosystems, from Mediterranean evergreen and temperate, deciduous forests through to coniferous boreal forests. Depending on a variety of factors, these forests harbour high levels of biodiversity, generated primarily by variations in climate and topography, but also to large extent through differences in forest management. In Europe, the majority of forests have been managed during past millennia. A large variety of land tenure and governance systems, management styles and forest uses have transformed European forests by changing their extent, structure, species composition and function. Currently, forests and other wooded lands cover almost 40% of the continent, or 227 million hectares (Forest Europe 2020), and host a tremendous variety of organisms. European Forests are crucial for a major part of continental biodiversity.

To protect habitats and species while also meeting its international commitments, the European Union (EU) has been developing the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, based on the 1979 Birds Directive (on the preservation of wild birds) and the 1992 Habitats Directive (on the conservation of natural habitats). The main goal of the Natura 2000 network is to protect the EU’s threatened species and habitats by setting conservation objectives, delineating protected sites and monitoring the conservation status of these sites. The network now includes almost 30,000 protected areas covering 18% of the EU’s land area, of which 48% is forested, and 8% of its marine territory (EEA 2019). According to Natura 2000-reporting, forests exhibit the highest proportion of improving trends among the assessments, with 14% of the forest assessments having a good conservation status. However, 31% of forest assessments still show a bad conservation status and 54% a poor conservation status (EEA 2019). This suggests that European forests have not escaped the global trend of biodiversity loss, and one of the targets of forest management is to increase biodiversity to improve this.

Connected to this, the EU has recently launched the Restoration regulation, aimed at improving the situation. This builds upon the Biodiversity Strategy which aims for 10% of all lands under strict set aside. In addition, the Commission’s Green Deal aims for protection of 30% of the land ecosystems. These current developments underline the relevance and timeliness of the course subject.

Improving biodiversity may be achieved through a variety of measures: from strict protection and set asides, to closer to nature management forms and more integrated approaches, characterizing land sparing and land sharing options. European forests have a central role to play in biodiversity conservation, as is recognized by recent publications and policy documents. But how to solve conflicting issues locally and regionally, taking into account local demands and stakeholders, remains a problem.

Course set-up

The course starts on Sunday with welcome drinks and lunch, followed by an opening lecture about the general theme and aims of the course and introductory poster pitches by the participants. During the week, there will be lectures and Masterclasses in the mornings on specific topics by experts of the partner institutes and from outside. Lectures will cover all interdisciplinary aspects related to forests, forest management, and biodiversity conservation in Europe. These can relate to ecological aspects, but also to social and sustainability aspects, as well as economics, integrated management, and governance.

In the afternoons, participants will work in small teams on a specific group work assignment. This will allow participants to link their theoretical knowledge with real-life challenges, aimed at finding solutions for the issues of our times! The experts will be present for most or all of the course to interact with the participants, to provide topical masterclasses and workshops, and to provide input for the group assignment. During two afternoons, the Białowieża National Park and the Białowieża forest will be visited with local guides.

In the evenings, there may be leisure lectures by invited speakers or local stakeholders, and possibly wildlife spotting excursions. On Friday, there will be no official program (see below). Then, on Saturday, the group projects are finalised and presented. On the last morning, the course is concluded by general discussion of the theme of the course, including a general wrap-up of the course and evaluation of the course aims. Finally, after a goodbye lunch, all can make their way home.


A detailed programme will be announced here when all guest lecturers have confirmed.

Course Organisers
General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates, postdocs and other academics with a background in forestry or conservation biology and associated policy-making.
Group Size Min. 20 / Max. 40 participants
Course duration 8 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Once every two years
Number of credits 2.5 ECTS
Prior knowledge No specific prior knowledge required
Location Dworek Gawra guesthouse
Logistical information

Participants make their own way to the airport of Warsaw or directly to Bialowieza. We are still working on the local transport plans. Prior to booking flights, please verify transportation options with the logistical coordinator, Miriam van Heist ( 

Fees 1
PE&RC PhD candidates and those of  other Graduate Schools of Wageningen University   € 400,- € 450,-
PhD candidates of any of the other ELLS Partner Universities 3 € 710,- € 760,-
All other PhD candidates and Academic staff of ELLS Universities € 1.100,- € 1.150,-
All others € 1.500,- € 1.550,-

1 The course fee includes accommodation, all meals, course materials, coffee/tea, and water. It does not include beverages in the bar. NOTE: participants arrange and pay for their travel costs to Poland.
2 The Early-Bird Fee applies to anyone who REGISTERS ON OR BEFORE 1 July 2023
3 To check whether your university is part of the ELLS network, please click here or contact the course coordinator.


  • If you need an invoice to complete your payment, please send an email to, including ALL relevant details that should be mentioned on the invoice (e.g., purchase order no., specific addresses, attendees, etc.).
  • The Early-Bird policy is such that the moment of REGISTRATION (and not payment) is leading for determining the fee that applies to you.
  • Please make sure that your payment is arranged within two weeks after your registration.
  • It is the participant's responsibility to make sure that he/she (or his/her secretary) completes the payment correctly and in time.
PE&RC Cancellation Conditions
  • Up to 4 (four) weeks prior to the start of the course, cancellation is free of charge.
  • Up to 2 (two) weeks prior to the start of the course, a fee of € 400,- will be charged.
  • In case of cancellation within two weeks prior to the start of the course, a fee of € 1.100,- will be charged.
  • If you do not show at all, a fee of € 1.500,- will nevertheless be charged.

Note: If you would like to cancel your registration, ALWAYS inform us and do not assume that by NOT paying the participation fee, your registration is automatically cancelled.

More information

Miriam van Heist (Graduate School PE&RC)
Phone: +31 628521546


To register, please enter your details below and click "Register".