VITRI Msc-level Courses

Studies at the Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI) focus on sustainable use and management of forests and natural resources in tropical and sub-tropical areas and in developing countries.

Education and training cover dry and humid tropics, natural and plantation forests, agroforestry systems, and management of forested tropical landscapes. Issues are dealt from ecological, economic and social point of view.

Courses and training are provided in English. Some of the courses are offered in the tropics, in collaboration with VITRI’s local partner institutions. In most cases, the thesis research is also undertaken in a tropical and/or developing country.

Studies and VITRI can be conducted in various forms, including regular BSc, MSc, and doctoral degree programs, International MSc Programs of the Department of Forest Sciences, minor (25 ECT) in tropical silviculture, and through Summer School and special training courses.


Objective: After attending the course students will understand basic concepts and methods of field research of tropical forests and natural resources and of livelihoods of forest-dependent rural people. The course is aimed primarily at participants of the TROP220 field course.

Contents: Forest inventory, biomass and carbon analysis; Biodiversity analysis in forested landscapes; Livelihoods analysis of poor farmers; Value-chain analysis of non-timber forest products; Vulnerability analysis of poor farmers and communities.

Objective: After participating in the course students will understand central issues of tropical forestry, agroforestry and natural resources management in developing countries. After the course, the students can apply basic methods of ecological and socio-economic field research.

Contents: The course is arranged as a three-week international filed course with partner universities in the Mekong area. The course focuses on group work in the field. It covers the following broad topics: a) forest resources assessment, b) biodiversity analysis in landscapes, c) analysis of forests and natural resources in livelihoods of local farmers, d) value-chain analysis of non-timber forest products, d) analysis of environmental change and vulnerability.


Objective: To identify and explain major agroforestry systems of the tropics and developing countries. To describe the mechanisms of ecological interactions among plant components. To acquaint students with the ecosystem services provided by agroforestry systems.

Contents: Ecophysiological, economical and social aspects of agroforestry systems and practices. Belowground interactions and nutrient cycling. Provisioning of ecosystem services by agroforestry systems. Theoretical models and research methods of these production systems and their linkages to major global environmental conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD, UNCBD).


Objective: The student will learn to identify and explain types of tree-based production systems in the tropics and compare different silvicultural systems applied to different types of tropical forests.

Contents: Silvicultural systems used in tropical natural forests; plantation forestry and agroforestry; dryland silviculture; sustainable forest management in the tropics; reduced-impact logging (RIL), managing biodiversity and ecosystem services in production forests, forest management planning; forest certification schemes; community and small-holder forestry; management of non-timber forest products; eco-tourism and other forest-related business opportunities.


Objective: The student will learn to identify and explain different types of planted forests and forest plantations existing in the tropics and challenges related to their management. The student will learn to analyze and compare different management schemes of plantation forests with broad spectrum of management options, including production of timber, fiber, and different ecosystem services.

Contents: Typology of planted forests and forest plantations in the tropics; role of tropical plantation forests in the world; management of plantation forests for fiber, timber and for ecosystem services; environmental and social impacts of plantation forestry; smallholder plantations; role of plantation forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Objective: The student will learn to identify and explain the role of tropical forests in mitigation and adaption of climate change. The student will learn to analyze the potential and challenges of tropical forests in climate change mitigation through REDD+ and other mechanisms. The student will also learn to identify and analyze options for ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change in the Tropics.

Contents: Basic concepts and ecological basis of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures; the role of tropical forests in global carbon cycle; REDD+ mechanism; challenges in implementing REDD+; analysis of vulnerability of tropical forests to climate change; adapting tropical forests to climate change; the role of tropical forests in ecosystem-based adaptation of societies.

Grup picture along the Mekong River, Lao PDRTeaching staffLocal foodLocal transportField work in the villagesField work in the forestSometimes even a social eventField visitsForest plantationsPresentation of resultsClosing ceremonyLast group picture in Bangkok, Thailand