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Applied Natural Resource Management


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Extended Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment and/or Environmental Governance


Sharing Scarcity: The Commons and/or Sharing Scarcity: Water


Our world is changing at unprecedented rates. On a global level, humanity was never more prosperous than today, life expectancy and other indicators of human wellbeing have increased dramatically in recent decades. At the same time, it becomes evident that our development has arrived at a crossroads. Many of our advancements, including the eradication of hunger and poverty have stalled and inequality is on the rise in almost all countries. We have probably altered the planetary system profoundly enough to impact the environmental conditions for life on earth for generations. Despite concerted efforts, we keep failing to slow the erosion of biological diversity. By degrading the ecological processes that supply us with critical ecosystem services and natural resources, we are undermining the very foundations for further advancement.

In a rapidly changing world, natural resource management (NRM) must acknowledge that human systems, our societies and economies, are ultimately embedded in and constrained by the natural world. This means we need a solid science base to understand natural systems and manage them sustainably to continue improving prosperity and quality of life for people everywhere. Furthermore, we need to acknowledge that sustainability is highly context dependent and that it will always remain a ‘moving target’. Business as usual is no option and fortunately new paradigms and approaches are well underway. However, it remains our responsibility to collectively shape, implement and adapt sustainable NRM strategies.

This course explores how we can balance environmental, social and economic viability in the context of NRM. Specifically, we are going to focus on sustainable strategies and instruments of forest management, agriculture, water and land management in different parts of the world.
During the first two weeks we will discuss fundamental concepts needed to establish the wider context of sustainable land management. We will cover the following overarching concepts and themes:

Natural Systems and NRM

  • Global environmental change and resilience of natural systems

  • The importance of biodiversity for sustaining Earth systems

  • Land based climate change adaptation and mitigation

  • Landscape and regional approaches: Integrated Water Resources Management

Economics and NRM

  • The role of natural systems in different economic models: Environmental, Ecological and Doughnut Economics, ‘strong’ vs. ‘weak’ sustainability

  • NRM and global markets

During week 3-7 the course will focus on policies, market instruments and private sector efforts to implement sustainable NRM. We will critically analyze case studies from different countries and continents on the implementation of instruments such as Payment for Ecosystem Services, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), sustainable forest management, protected area management and sustainable agriculture certifications, among others.

Course Objectives


  • Understand the interrelations between NRM and sustainable development in high- and lower-income countries, connected by global markets

  • Understand the priorities of sustainable NRM in different parts of the world

  • Understand the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of existing NRM practices under a wide range of environmental, socio-economic and cultural conditions

  • Understand how NRM strategies fit into the context of local environmental governance and planning


  • Analyze the impacts and benefits of current natural resource use on the environment, communities and livelihoods

  • Develop approaches to plan suitable NRM strategies within a wide range of environmental, socio-economic and cultural conditions

  • Assemble an ‘NRM toolbox’ and put it to use within the context of different strategies

  • Identify key partners, stakeholders and funding sources for the implementation of NRM strategies


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The first part of the course will consist of seminar-style lectures and (partially student-led) discussions on the overarching concepts and themes, based on readings, other class materials and perspectives contributed by course participants.

During the second part of the course we will analyze different case studies presented by the instructor, guest-lecturers and by students under the umbrella of the overarching themes. Case studies will analyze the environmental, social and economic impacts and benefits of different NRM approaches in various parts of the world.
One short field trip will illustrate local land management examples and will offer an opportunity to evaluate sustainable practices during a field exercise.

Assessment Method

  • Participation 15%

  • Field exercise 15%

  • Case study proposal 15%

  • Proposal peer review 10%

  • Case study presentation 20%

  • Final report 25%

As part of their assessment, students will select one case study of their choice that illustrates a specific NRM problem. They will provide sufficient reliable data on the case to evaluate environmental, societal and economic impacts of this issue. In a second step students will propose a possible solution to the problem. This solution should include suitable ‘NRM tools’, a list of stakeholders that should be involved and ideas on how to ensure funding or the economic viability of the proposed actions. It should also be outlined how this solution can be integrated into the existing local governance and land-use planning structures in the longer term.

Reading list

To be announced.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Achim Häger,