Department of Forest and Water Management


The following domains are covered by the department: Forest Ecology, Forestry of Temperate and Tropical Regions, Nature conservation and restoration, Forest Politics, Forest Management Planning, Wood Biology, Wood Technology, Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems, Hydraulics, Hydrology and Water Management. Courses cover integrated management and the diversity of functions and services of forests, nature and water and are based on in-depth knowledge of biological, ecological and technological aspects. >> More about education


Current research focuses on a diversity of subjects.

The research mission of the Forest & Nature Lab (ForNaLab) is to perform hypothesis-driven research on the mutual interactions between (forest) ecosystem structure, composition and diversity and (forest) ecosystem processes, based on actual policy or management questions or aimed at providing advice for managers and policy makers. ForNaLab has a broad experience in (i) studying (forest) vegetation dynamics at several spatio-temporal scales, with special attention for the effects of global change drivers on plant population and community dynamics and (ii) biogeochemical cycling in (forest) ecosystems, with the focus on acidification and eutrophication processes, water- and nutrient-fluxes in ecosystems and the changing soil properties in restored, post-agricultural sites.

The Laboratory of Forest Management and Spatial Information Techniques (FORSIT) is responsible for different projects in the dry and humid tropics dealing with monitoring and management of forest and natural resources by means of remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).Current research covers satellite image processing for mapping, inventory and monitoring of temperate and tropical forests featuring techniques such as sub-pixel mapping, artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms. Diachronic image processing and multisensor image fusion relate to management issues in tropical forest planning, and natura areas with high temporal dynamics such as wetlands. Further research topics are advanced forest management planning techniques integrating decision models and spatial data, and development of forest production models to aid in establishing sustainable harvesting levels in the moist tropical forest realm.

The Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Management (LHWM) is mainly active in the field of developing hydrological models for water management purposes. The research focusses on the determination of hydrological state variables using remote sensing and assimilating those data into hydrological models on diverse spatial scales in order to improve modelling. In this type of research the emphasis is mainly on the retrieval of soil moisture from radar satellite imagery. In collaboration with international research units, remote sensing techniques are also used to study surface-vegetation-atmosphere processes. Another research subject is modelling of the spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation and its implementation in hydrological models. An important and actual research domain is ecohydrology whereby the relation between hydrology and the natural ecosystem in order to predict the impact of changes in water management on the environment is investigated.

Research at the Laboratory of Wood Technology (Woodlab) focuses on basic wood characteristics and wood quality, chemical wood protection and wood finishing, wood modification processes and the production and applications of wood composite materials. Emphasis is put on rational utilization of wood, durability of wood products and environmentally acceptable processing and wood treatment. Research is supported through cooperation with industry and government, on a regional, national and international level.


The department is very active in national and international scientific committees and editorial boards. Government agencies as well as private companies contact our researchers regularly for technical and scientific advice. In-service training is provided for students from developing countries. >> More about services