Program Requirements:

To be awarded the Graduate Certificate in Forest Management and Conservation, students must complete 15-credits (5 courses) in a maximum of two years.

One required (core) course, which must be completed in the first term:

  • FOPE 500 (3)

Students can then customize their certificate by selecting four additional courses that suit their unique interests, within the elective pool:

  • FOPE 501 (3)
  • FOPE 502 (3)
  • FOPE 503 (3)
  • FOPE 504 (3)
  • FOPE 505 (3)
  • CONS 506 (3)
  • FOPE 507 (3)
  • FOPE 508 (3)
  • FOPE 509 (3)

Program Delivery Format

The GCFMC is a fully online program that facilitates the participation of learners from across Canada and around the world. Course content will be offered through the UBC Canvas system and will be a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students will review journal articles, view video lectures, complete course-specific assignments, and engage in facilitated online discussions. Emerging educational technology will be integrated to enrich the online learning experience.

Timeline to Completion:

GCFMC students have the flexibility to create their own timeline to completion, within a maximum of two years (6 terms). UBC term timelines and course instructors are:

FOPE 500 will be offered in both Winter Term 1 and 2, but must be completed in the student’s first term. Each of the nine elective courses will be offered at least once per year, with 3-4 courses available per term. This guarantees students a full selection of courses annually.


Upon successful completion of the required 15 credits, students can apply for graduation. GCFMC students are not eligible to attend UBC convocation ceremonies but are awarded a certificate parchment. An official UBC transcript may be ordered any time through the UBC Student Service Centre (SSC).

Course Descriptions

Origin of sustainable forest management, criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management used globally and how these will vary in a changing climate.

Forests provide multiple ecosystem services and functions that are invaluable for human wellbeing. However, each year about 13 million hectares of tropical forests experience deforestation, causing severe consequences for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation, as well as adversely affecting the livelihoods of millions of people. At the same time, the critical importance of forests in mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases on climate is being increasingly recognized, adding new societal expectations to forests. As a consequence, past forest management techniques are no longer appropriate in some circumstances and, as a result, we need to change our approach to sustainable forest management. This course, “Sustainable Forest Management in a Changing World”, provides an overview of the criteria and indicators that are being used worldwide to guide sustainable forest management practices and explains how these will vary in a changing climate. It examines the evolution of sustainable forest management, particularly in relation to internationally agreed criteria of sustainable forest management. It adds to this discussion by looking at forest management through the lens of climate change. This is an important component of today’s forest management, particularly within the framework of nature-based solutions for addressing climate change and biodiversity conservation.

The fundamental concepts of spatial technologies and geo-spatial analysis.

Demand for professionals with careers focused on the environment, conservation and sustainability (green-jobs) continues to grow at ever-increasing rates. All of these careers require a diversity of skills; however, among the most important are skills focused on geomatics, mapping and spatial data analysis. Designing forest conservation zones, management for endangered species, sustainable forestry practices, urban greenspace corridors, and locating re-greening sites for carbon mitigation all require knowledge and skills in acquiring, analyzing, processing and displaying geo-spatial data.

Geospatial information such as forest inventories, satellite, aircraft and Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) imagery, digital terrain models, plot-based field records, climate models, or road and stream networks are ubiquitous; yet specific skills to handle and process the information, and analytical approaches to translate these data into relevant applications for policy, science, or operations are needed. In particular, remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software allows analysis of spatial location data quickly and efficiently. Remote sensing provides highly detailed 2 and 3D data on terrestrial, atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Geo-positioning technologies, specifically Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), result in extremely accurate locational services. Advances in the miniaturization and capacity of hard and soft computing technologies provide storage and communication capacities. It is important that students develop informed skills in all of these areas.

This course is designed to introduce students to the core concepts of geomatics through analyzing spatial data using several different tools. We hope to inspire you with the capabilities of GPS, remote sensing and GIS so that you can start thinking about the next generation of spatial analysis and how it might be applied in the future.

The principles behind urban forest governance, urban forest planning and green-space management, and their role in contributing to human health and wellbeing.
Students will be introduced to the interdisciplinary field of urban forestry and its implementation across the Asia-Pacific Region. They will learn the principles behind urban forest governance, urban forest planning and green-space management, and their role in contributing to human health and wellbeing, more vibrant and attractive cities, improved ecosystem functioning, and building resiliency to an uncertain and changing climate.
Students will develop and apply knowledge through interactive instruction, reading and writing assignments to assess and critique contemporary urban forest case studies, self-guided field trips, and conducting an urban forest site analysis and planning project. Exercises will be used throughout the course to provide a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges faced by urban forest managers and stewards.
Topics covered in this course include the impacts of urbanization on urban nature and urban ecology, history and evolution of urban forestry, urban forest ecosystem services, urban forest management, climate change, society and human well-being, design and planning, urban/rural interface issues, and urban forest governance and policy.

Potential impacts of climate change on global forest systems; concepts and techniques of climate change modelling; adaptive management strategies.

Climate change is a major threat to the capacity of forest ecosystems to provide ecological, economic and social services. Climate modeling tools for forestry applications are becoming increasingly available for forest managers and local authorities to understand the potential effects of climate change and to develop regionally specific adaptation and mitigation strategies. It is crucial to nurture future professionals with the knowledge and skills to use new modelling tools and interpret model predictions in forest planning and management practices, and to develop forest resources management strategies to maintain and improve the resilience and productivity of forest ecosystems under a rapidly changing climate.

This course will introduce the concepts and urgencies of climate change and its potential impacts on global forest systems. It will also introduce various climatic and ecological modeling tools for forestry applications, including adaptive management strategies. Subsequent course modules will encompass introductions to climatic and ecological models, more specifically addressing applications to forestry to increase the resilience and viability of forest ecosystems. Students will master skills and techniques to: 1) use climatic models to generate spatial climate data; 2) build ecological models; and 3) interpret and apply model output to forest management practice. Finally all concepts will be reviewed and synthesized through case studies and applied to a final group project.

Evolutionary history and main ecological characteristics of the tropical rainforest and seasonal forests, and comparison of the major differences that exist between the many different types of forests in the Tropics.

This course provides a description of the main ecological characteristics of tropical forests, including their structure and composition. It covers both tropical rainforests and tropical seasonal forests. You will learn about the evolution of tropical forests, important in understanding their remarkable diversity. By the end of the course, you will be able to recognize some of the different components of the tropical forest ecosystem, and the major differences that exist between the many different types of forests in the Tropics. You will apply knowledge gained through online presentations, videos, reading assignments, and self study. Exercises will be used throughout the course to provide a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges faced by tropical forest managers and stewards in maintaining the ecology of tropical forests.

The tropical forest environment is exceptionally complex. This course starts with a focus on what defines tropical forests and what has brought about these unique environments (Module 1). We then look at the physical environment of tropical forests, including their climate, hydrology soils and landforms, before examining an example of an extreme tropical forest environment, namely mangroves (Module 2).

Modules 3, 4 and 5 look at the incredible diversity of tropical forests, introducing you to some of the important taxonomic groups found in tropical forests. Module 3 deals with the forest vegetation, the basis of the tropical forest ecosystem. Module 4 introduces you to the variety of vertebrates found in tropical forests, whereas Module 5 deals with tropical invertebrates.

Description of the main ecological processes occurring in tropical rainforests and seasonal forests.

This course provides a description of the main ecological processes occurring in tropical forests. It covers both tropical rainforests and tropical seasonal forests. You will learn about the diversity of tropical forests, and the processes that have created this diversity, important to developing an understanding of their remarkable diversity. You will also learn about the ecological processes found today in tropical forests, an understanding of which is essential to judge the potential effects of a management intervention on a forest. You will apply knowledge gained through online presentations, videos, reading assignments, and self study to assess the potential impacts of an anthropogenic intervention in a tropical forest. Exercises will be used throughout the course to provide a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges faced by tropical forest managers and stewards in maintaining the ecology of tropical forests.

Various hypotheses have been put forward to explain the diversity found in tropical forests and these are reviewed in Module 1. We then move on to examine the way that tropical forests function, with Module 2 dealing with ecosystem processes and Module 3 dealing with plant reproduction. The majority of tropical trees are pollinated by animals, and animals (especially vertebrates) play an important part in the subsequent dispersal of seeds. The relationships amongst organisms are further examined in Module 4, which looks into processes such as herbivory, predation, parasitism and facilitation.

A final module (Module 5) looks at case studies from the five tropical forest regions. It is important to be familiar with the tropical forests in one of these regions, but equally important to have some knowledge of the tropical forests in the other regions, as there are substantial differences. This will broaden your perspective of tropical forests.

Key forest conservation issues in Asia, and regional strategies, programs, and practices for restoration of critical landscapes, rehabilitation of terrestrial ecosystems and conservation of flagship species.

The objectives and content remain the same in the on-campus session and the online session.

Asia harbors mega-biodiversity and unique ecosystems. It is also home to more than half of the global population with the fastest growing economies in the world. Degradation of Asian forest ecosystems, particularly tropical forests, is not new and the impacts are becoming more alarming as the amount of degraded forests increase each year. The economic and environmental consequences of deforestation are profound, making it one of the most critical issues facing our global society. Balancing conservation and economic development is key for achieving sustainable development, and finding this balance is a big challenge moving forward.

In this course, students will learn about the drivers of a range of forest conservation issues in Asia, from deforestation to emerging challenges such as climate change. They will critically analyze regional strategies, programs, and practices for addressing those issues, and synthesize best practices and lessons learned from case studies in Asia. Students will actively participate in discussions, conduct self-reflection, peer reviews and collaborative work for co-creation of knowledge to master shifting paradigms, policies and processes for conservation and development in Asia.

Major contemporary global natural resources management issues in general however with emphasis on Forestry.

This deals with three major contemporary global natural resources management issues in general, with emphasis on Forestry. First, an updated status of international policy regime, especially as related to the role of forests, in achieving sustainable development and climate change mitigation, as well as conservation of biodiversity and combating desertification. Second, it introduces the students to concerned governmental and non-governmental institutions, describing their mandates and modus operandi. Third, after introducing some aspects of the practices and discourses of international regulations that shape and advance international debates and political interests driving forest policy developments, the course introduces forest diplomacy and negotiation processes, then associated multi-lateral agreements (The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, The Paris Agreement, and the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2030) are outlined and discussed. The course will conclude by guiding the students through a session of simulated negotiation of an international topic.

The interdependence and dynamics of different forest ecosystem services and how they contribute to sustainable forest management and community livelihoods.

Forests are an important form of natural capital. They produce ecosystem services to support well-being and livelihoods. However, the use of these ecosystem services affects the natural capital. Thus, striking a balance between exploitation and conservation is both a long-desired goal and a challenge. Furthermore, rapid losses of forest ecosystem services due to anthropogenic impacts and phenomena such as climate change are realities that many nations contend with. An understanding of the science underlying ecosystem services and how ecosystem services contribute to livelihoods of communities is critical for designing meaningful actions for sustainable use and management.

Ecosystem services is a concept that “helps explain human reliance on nature and frame the decisions we make in terms of the ongoing value of nature for human well-being” (Bennet and Chaplin-Kramer 2016). This course emphasizes ecosystem services as an approach to harness forest-based community livelihoods and as a means to sustainably manage and use forests as a natural capital. It is developed for professionals or practitioners engaged in forest or environmental governance and management.

Managing the key factors that affect forest plantations in tropical and subtropical area in the Asia-Pacific region.

This course will focus on designing and managing the key factors that impact forest plantations in tropical and subtropical area in the Asia Pacific region. The main species include eucalyptus, teak, rubber, bamboo and poplar. Theories and techniques for forest inventory, plantation design and management will be addressed. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: (1) know methods for forest plantation design, management, and pest protection; (2) identify the major factors that threaten the sustainable management of forest plantations of eucalyptus, teak, rubber, bamboo, and poplar; (3) analyze real-world problems and apply appropriate principles of plantation design and management in formulating integrated forest management and pest protection strategies.