Conflicting demands in European Forests

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International on-site postgraduate course

in the Last Wilderness of Boreal Europe and under the Midnight Sun

Conflicting demands in European Forests

a wicked problem?

Sunday 24 June – Monday 2 July 2018

Gällivare, Sweden (part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Laponia")

Scope across Europe we see examples of areas in which various stakeholders try to use or even exploit the land such that it optimises their demands. Often times, these demands conflict between stakeholders. For instance, nature conservationists may attempt to maintain the area in a natural state, while local industry (forestry, mining, agriculture) may try to exploit the land maximally. The tourism sector, on the other hand, may wish to use the area for recreational purposes, potentially pressurizing the environment. And of course, the local community has its demands for land use.

More and more, decision makers are confronted with such conflicting demands when trying to develop sustainable land-use strategies. This may lead to a so-called wicked problem; a complex issue that defies complete definition, for which there can be no final solutions, since any resolution generates further issues, and where solutions are not true or false or good or bad, but the best that can be done at the time.

Scientists working on these wicked problems need to be trained to work in trans-, multi- and interdisciplinary teams of experts with various different scientific backgrounds, such as ecologists, economists, political, and social scientists. This course aims to teach them the skills they need for working in diverse teams, by means of a real-life case. The course is focused around Gällivare, a small town in the north of Sweden. Here we find the “last wilderness of Boreal Europe”, part of an UNESCO World Heritage Site with large nature reserves and national parks. At the same time, it has an active mining industry, forestry, reindeer herding and tourism. It is a perfect place for land use and land use change discussions. Picture source:

The idea of this course is to bring PhD candidates and postdocs from various countries and cultural backgrounds, and working in different scientific disciplines but related to European forests, together in a professional on-site training course. As multidisciplinary teams, we will introduce them to the various stakeholders, and allow them to collect necessary data that can help them to ultimately present a sustainable, long-term land-use strategy for the case study area or for a representative area elsewhere in Europe.

To enable the participants to really develop their skills in multidisciplinary research, and to ensure that they are coming up with robust and innovative solutions that can be extrapolated to other areas across Europe or the world, we will bring in a team of expert scientists from across Europe. These will be people with expertise in European forest ecology, but also experts from industry, economics, sociology, and policy. We will also organise excursions and interactions to and with local stakeholders, such as the local community, the local mining company Boliden Mineral AB and the state forestry service Sveaskog AB.

Course set-up

The course is planned to run for 9 days in the end of June 2018. It starts on Sunday 24 June in the late afternoon with welcome drinks, followed by introductory poster pitches of the participants, and concluded by an opening lecture about the general theme and aims of the course. Then, from Monday until Saturday there will be lectures in the morning on specific topics by experts of the partner institutes and/or from outside. Lectures will cover all interdisciplinary aspects related to conflicting demands in land-use. From forests and forest management in Europe to social and sustainability aspects, as well as economics, industrial innovation 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 international experts will be present for most or all of the course to interact with the participants and to provide input for the group assignment. In the evenings, there may be some leisure lectures by invited speakers or local stakeholders. On Sunday, there will be no official programme, and people can explore the region a bit more. Then, on Monday, the group projects are finalised. On the last morning, the course is concluded by presentations of the group work, followed by a general wrap-up of the course and evaluation of the course aims. Finally, after a goodbye lunch, all can make their way home.

During the course, several excursions and field visits are planned to various stakeholders, and into the local area, to allow for interaction and exchange of ideas with the stakeholders, and to illustrate the challenges faced with regards to the conflicting demands that are at hand.

Preliminary programme
Date Morning Afternoon Dinner Evening
Sun 24 June   Arrival at course venue (~5 PM) At venue Introductory lecture + introduction participants
Mon 25 June Lectures + discussion Introduction to group work Hosted by local township Participant pitches with plan of action for group work
Tue 26 June Excursion Excursion Hosted by excursion hosts Wrap-up of excursion highlights
Wed 27 June Lectures + discussion Group work Hosted by stakeholder Poster session participants posters
Thu 28 June Lectures + discussion Group work At venue Plenary debate with stakeholders
Fri 29 June Lectures + discussion Group work Hosted by stakeholder Leisure lecture in preparation of weekend excursions
Sat 30 June Excursion Excursion At venue Free
Sun 1 July Free Group work (optional) At venue Preparations final presentations (optional)
Mon 2 July Final group work presentations Concluding lunch and travel back    
Preliminary lecture topics
  • General lecture about conflicting demands (in forestry)
  • General framework lecture about the trade-offs in forests. Forests can’t deliver everything at the same time
  • Forest/Land as a resource
  • Future perspectives in the forest sector
  • Governance lecture – decision-making processes
  • Management aspects: should we manage for biodiversity? / Natural nature
  • Economical perspectives
  • Social perspectives
  • Lecture on participatory research – decision-making tools (wicked problems / companion modelling)
  • ....
Course Organisers
General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates, postdocs and other academics
Group Size Min. 15 / Max. 30 participants
Course duration 9 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Once every two years
Number of credits 3 ECTS
Lecturers Prof. Tomas Lundmark, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden (CONFIRMED)
Prof. Gert-Jan Nabuurs, Forest Ecology & Management, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands (CONFIRMED)
Prof. Frits Mohren, Forest Ecology & Management, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands (CONFIRMED)
Dr Erika Speelman, Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands (CONFIRMED)
Dr Mathias Neumann, Institute of Silviculture, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria (CONFIRMED)
Prof. Helga Pülzl, Institute of Forest, Environmental and Natural Resource Policy, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria (CONFIRMED)
Prof. Annika Nordin, Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden (CONFIRMED)
Prof. Camilla Sandström, Department of Political Science, Umeå University, Sweden (CONFIRMED)
Prior knowledge No specific prior knowledge required
Location Gällivare, Sweden
Logistical information

The idea is that participants themselves make their way either to the airport of Gällivare or the airport of Kiruna, or Luleå. The current plan is to transport participants from Luleå airport by means of mini busses. The mini busses will depart from Luleå at around about 16:00hrs on Sunday 24 June. However, prior to booking your flights, please verify transportation options with the logistical coordinator, Dr Lennart Suselbeek ( Note that for PhD candidates of the Graduate School PE&RC, a travel subsidy of up to approximately € 300,- per PhD candidate is available for covering the costs associated with travelling to and from the course venue. To apply for this subsidy, the applicant needs to submit a personal motivation letter of max. 500 words with proven support by the PhD supervisor to the secretariat of the Graduate School PE&RC ( The deadline for applying for a travel subsidy is Tuesday 15 May 2018, 12 NOON.

About the course region mining town Gällivare is located 100 kilometers above the Arctic Circle. The county is 16.000 square acres, has 18.000 inhabitants and is home to the UNESCO World Heritage area Laponia, Dundret – the mountain in the city, and the mines LKAB and Aitik, the latest is Scandinavia’s largest open pit mine. On this territory the villages are obviously spread out and quite distant from each other. Gällivare literaly stands with one foot in the stunning mountain world and the other in the countryside. In between is the town of Gällivare. Very close to the town of Gällivare, we find a large iron mine, operated by LKAB. The mining pit, which is located just north of the town Malmberget, divides the society into two parts. It is a result of a planned collapse of the underground mine ceiling for safety reasons. Today, LKAB’s iron ore mining takes place just north of Malmberget, but the ore deposits travel in a southwestly direction, under the city. Parts of Malmberget have already been moved or demolished. It is a social change that is underway and has affected the residents of the municipality for a long time. During the 2000’s, the pace of transformation has increased significantly and Malmberget is now being phased out and will be completely removed by 2032. In Gällivare, 250.000 sq m of new buildings will be built during the next ten years. An attractive center with a new high school is being built. The small community of Koskullskulle, about 8 km from Gällivare, is also growing and developing, through both relocation and new buildings. Cultural buildings from Malmberget are also being moved to Koskullskulle. Simultaneously with all changes, Gällivare is developing tourism. At the same time, Gällivare is home to the world heritage Laponia, which includes national parks; Sarek, Padjelanta, Stora Sjöfallet and Muddus, as well as parts of the nature reserves Sjaunja and Stubba. More details about the region can be found here and here.

Fees 1
PhD candidates of PE&RC 4, of Wageningen University and of any of the other ELLS Partner Universities 3 € 350,- € 400,-
a) All other PhD candidates
b) Postdocs and staff of PE&RC, of Wageningen University and of any of the other ELLS Partner Universities
€ 700,- € 750,-
All others € 1.000,- € 1.050,-

1 The course fee includes accommodation, all meals, course materials, coffee/tea, and water. It does not include beverages in the bar
2 The Early-Bird Fee applies to anyone who REGISTERS ON OR BEFORE 13 MAY 2018
3 To check whether your university is part of the ELLS network, please click here or contact the course coordinator.
4 A travel subsidy of up to approximately € 300,- per PhD candidate is available for PhD candidates of the Graduate School PE&RC. To apply for this subsidy, the applicant needs to submit a personal motivation letter of max. 500 words with proven support by the PhD supervisor to The deadline for applying for a travel subsidy is Tuesday 15 May 2018, 12 NOON.


  • 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 € 350,- will be charged.
  • In case of cancellation within two weeks prior to the start of the course, a fee of € 700,- will be charged.
  • If you do not show at all, a fee of € 1000,- 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, because it isn't.

More information

Dr Lennart Suselbeek (Graduate School PE&RC)
Phone: +31 317 485426


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