Tropical Forests, People, and Policies

Course content

The course provides you with a people-oriented approach to sustainable environmental resource management, combining readings with exercises. Emphasis is on the relationships between people, environmental resource use, and conservation, with particular emphasis on tropical and sub-tropical forests. The course offers a combination of guided readings, in-class discussions and exercises, online discussions and tests, and detailed feedback on two individual essays.

Central themes are: (i) Paradigms – what ideas and views guide tropical forestry development? (ii) Livelihoods – how do poor people depend on environmental resources? (iii) Valuation – how can we put a price on environmental products and make visible their importance to local people? (iv) Forest cover – how much forest is there and how do we know? (v) Deforestation – why do forests disappear and what can be done? (vi) Policies – what characterises national policies? What global policies exist and why? Do policies work? and (vii) Sustainable management – can REDD, certification or other instruments save the tropical and sub-tropical forests? In addition, the course provides guidance and exercises in essay writing.


MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management
MSc Programme in Forests and Livelihoods
MSc Programme in Nature Management
MSc Programme in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management

Learning outcome

This course provides an introduction to essential contemporary issues related to environmental product use in the Global South. The aim is to give students a thorough understanding of the current and potential role of environmental products in improving rural livelihoods. It is stressed that environmental products are an integral part of society and should not be considered in isolation.

After finishing the course the student is expected to be able to:

Understand the potential of using environmental products to prevent and reduce poverty

Understand key contemporary issues in tropical forestry, including forest-reliance, deforestation, national and global forest policy and processes, and the potential of using market-based mechanisms to achieve sustainable forest management

Understand basic environmental product valuation methods


Apply principles, theories, and frameworks to case studies

Make a judgment on the quality of scientific publications

Communicate clearly, concisely, and confidently in written format


Argue cogently and think critically within the parameters of a particular academic discipline

Reflect on the nature of poverty and the role of environmental products in poverty alleviation

Demonstrate the values of scholarship: inquiry, reflection, integrity, open-mindedness, evidence-based thinking, and collegiality

Tackle problems by collecting, analysing and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information and using it creatively

The course is provided through a web-based teaching and learning system as well as in the classroom. Modules focus on integrating literature studies and exercises, including online discussions mediated by faculty. Exercises focus on understanding theory and using theory on actual cases. Each student is provided guidance in essay writing and receive detailed feedback on two individual essays.

Course material consists of selected scientific articles, book chapters, lecture notes, video clips, and slideshows. These are all accessible through the course homepage.

The course draws on basic elements of economic theory and management of renewable natural resources, all or part of which are introduced in a wide range of undergraduate programmes.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Students are assessed according to (i) their completion of exercises throughout the course, and (ii) through two teacher commented essays. The essays are distributed and submitted electronically. Completion of exercises and essays count 40% and 60% respectively towards the final mark.

The final grade is calculated as a weighted average of the results from the part-examinations, and you pass if the average grade is 02 or above.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal censor
Criteria for exam assessment

To obtain the grade 12 the student must fullfil the Learning Outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Preparation
  • 134
  • E-Learning
  • 24
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 1
Teaching is blended learning, combining online exercises and discussions with lectures.
Study Board of Natural Resources, Environment and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Food and Resource Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Carsten Smith-Hall   (3-73837f507976827f3e7b853e747b)

Carsten Smith-Hall

Saved on the 01-03-2021

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