Forests are the lungs of the world. The great boreal forests cover almost 17 million square kilometers of North America, Europe and Asia. Tropical forests cover perhaps 6.5 million square kilometers and temperate forest systems another 10 million square kilometers. Tropical forests are renowned as sources of biodiversity, the northern boreal forests are major regions of carbon sequestration and they too are under threat through timber and mineral exploitation. Without forests our climate would be drastically different from the one we experience today, much of the globe would be desert and uninhabitable. Yet despite their importance as sources of biodiversity and climate regulation they are, especially in the tropics and the far north, constantly under threat. In temperate regions commercially managed forests are important sources of much needed products for our homes and industry. They are also important refugia for threatened wild life and provide educational and recreational uses for a significant proportion of the population. Despite their importance we still know very little about how to manage them sustainably and how to protect our rapidly shrinking natural forests and woodlands and the organisms that live within them.
This course covers a broad range of topics in conservation and forestry related topics. All students receive training in fundamental skills which will enable them to enter a conservation or forestry related work environment or a research career in conservation or forestry and woodland ecology. There is, however, considerable flexibility enabling each student to focus on specialist subjects consistent with their interests and future career intentions. The MSc was designed in response to demands from conservation bodies for people with practical conservation skills as well as a strong academic background and has a strong practical field based component in each taught module.