Professor of Ecosystem Management

Conservation Management Field Course Beinn Eighe


OPAL is funded

Oil Palm Adaptive Landscapes, a 6-yr research program spanning Indonesia, Cameroon and Colombia, is funded by SNF/SDC. Interdisciplinary & participatory, biodiversity & ecosystem services, livelihoods, policy, and development - we have it all! Starting in 2015, and recruiting soon.

New book

Forests: A Very Short Introduction
- pre-order now at OUP!

Sustainability Blog

The Future of Milk | 2 Sept 2014

Reforestation: a chance for farmers | 3 June 2014

Future farmers | 19 December 2013

Dark side of coffee | 11 November 2013

In the Media

Die Pflanze unseres Lebens (The plants of our lives) | NZZ am Sonntag | 23 February 2014 | Article on our oil palm work (in German).

New Publications

Born, J. et al. (2015) Differential responses of seedlings to microtopography. Biotropica, in press.

Born, J. et al. (2014) Differing life history characteristics support coexistence ... . Biotropica, 46, 58-68.

Braaker, S., et al. (2014) Habitat connectivity shapes urban arthropod communities... Ecology, 95, 1010-1021.

Finger, A. et al. (2014) Genetic connectivity of a moth pollinated tree in a fragmented habitat ... PLOS One. see here

Frei, E., et al. (2014) Plant population differentiation and climate change... Global Change Biology, 20, 441-455.

Ghazoul, J. (2014) Ecological dynamics in fragmented landscapes. Oxford Bibliographies in Ecology see here

Ismail, S.A., et al. (2014) Forest trees in human modified landscapes... PLOS One, 9, e89437.

Kaiser-Bunbury, C., et al. (2014) ... the structure of plant-pollinator networks. Ecology, in press.

Ecology and Ecosystems Seminar Series

This 8-day field course, located in the Western Highlands of Scotland, is run once every two years. The next course will be June 28 to July 5, 2015.

Detailed description (PDF)

For additional information, please contact Jaboury Ghazoul


Brief description

Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve in the Scottish Highlands is Britain's first nature reserve (designated in 1951) and has a long history of different management approaches. Its Caledonian pine forests and unique bog and mere systems harbour rich plant, animal and invertebrate life. The outstanding beauty and cultural history of the landscape attracts tourists from Europe and beyond.

Like the rest of Scotland, and indeed Europe, Beinn Eighe has been shaped by the social and environmental values of people over generations. These values do not always coincide, and current conflicts over land management arise between conservationists, forestry enterprises, small landowners (crofters), large landowners (estates), tourists and hillwalkers, and developers. Consequently, the management of this area must be sensitive to differing perspectives and needs of local and regional populations. It is this complex natural and social environment that makes Beinn Eighe a fascinating and informative place to study conservation management.


Course overview

This eight day field course will explore past, current and future conservation management of this important nature reserve in the context of a complex social and political environment. It offers students opportunities to learn about how to integrate ecological, economic and social aspects of conservation to overcome conflicts among local and regional stakeholders and land-use objectives. The Scottish Highlands present a very different ecological and social scenario to any encountered within Switzerland, and yet there are similarities in the underlying conservation management challenges.

The course will allow students to learn about ecology, conservation and management issues in a unique landscape. Each day excursions will focus on specific important issues relating to conservation management in the area. Excursions will be led by local experts representing science, management and policy, each of whom will explore with the students the complexities of the chosen topics. Topics will encompass species, habitats and landscapes from economic, ecological and cultural perspectives across various spatial and temporal scales.

There will also be great opportunities to explore the beautiful and remote West Highlands of Scotland, one of Europe's last great wild places. In addition to the landscape students will be able to enjoy the culture of the region, perhaps even participating in Scotland's Highland Games.



Scotlands National Nature Reserves

Undiscovered Scotland


Highland Games


Basic literature

Laughton Johnson, J and Balharry, D. (2001): Beinn Eighe. The Mountain Above the Wood. This book gives a good background to the Beinn Eighe nature reserve, specifically the first fifty years of its designation. We suggest you read the first and final chapters as a very basic introduction.

Chapter 1 (pdf)

Chapter 10 (pdf)

SNH (2002): Natural Heritage Futures: Western Highlands. SNH Prints. (pdf)

Additional literature

Deer management

Clutton-Brock et al. (2004): Red deer stocks in the Highlands of Scotland. A drastic culling of deer may not be the best strategy to arrest erostion of heather cover. Nature 429: 261-262. (pdf)

Grant et al. (1981): The responses of heather-dominated Vegetation in North-East Scotland to grazing by red deer. Jounal of Ecology 69(1): 189-204. (pdf)

Osborne (1984): Habitat use by red deer and hill sheep in the west highlands. Journal of Applied Ecology 21: 497-506. (pdf)

Nilsen et al. (2007): Wolf reintroduction to Scotland: public attitudes and consequences for red deer management. Proc. R. Soc. B 274: 995-1002. (pdf)

Putman & Staines (2004): Supplementary winter feeding of wild red deer Cervus elaphus in Europe and North America: justifications, feeding practice and effectiveness. Mammal Rev. 34(4): 285-306. (pdf)

WWF Scotland (2004): Red Deer in Scotland. Data support sheet. (pdf)


Local livelihoods and demographic change

Comittee of inquiry on crofting (2008): Final report. Blackwell's bookshop, Edinburgh. (pdf)

Comittee of inquiry on crofting / The Macaulay Institute (2007): Trends, patterns and the environmental consequences of land use across the crofting counties. (pdf)

Morgan-Davies et al. (2006): Sustainable hill and upland systems: what do people want the hills to deliver? Int. J. Biodiversity Science and Management 2: 242-244. (pdf)


Ecology and geology

Dickson (1993): Scottish Woodlands: Their ancient past and precarious present. Scottish Forestry 47(3): 73-78. (pdf)

Fenton (2008): A postulated natural origin for the open landscape of upland Scotland. Plant Ecology and Diversity 1(1): 115-127. (pdf)

Hancock et al. (2005): The effect of experimental prescribed fire on the establishment of Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris seedlings and on heather Calluna vulgaris moorland. Forest Ecology and Management 212: 199-213. (pdf)

Morgan-Davies et al. (2008): Integrating hill sheep production and newly established native woodland: achieving sustainability through multiple land use in Scotland. Int. J. Agricultural Sustainability 6(2): 133-147. (pdf)

Ramsay & Dickson (1997): Vegetation history of Central Scotland. Bot. J. Scotl. 49 (2): 141-150. (pdf)

Scott et al. (2000): Regeneration of Pinus sylvestris in a natural pinewood in NE Scotalnd following reduction in grazing by Cervus elaphus. Forest ecology and management 130: 199-211. (pdf)

Tipping (2008): Blanket peat in the Scottish Highlands: timing, cause, spread and the myth of environmental determinism. Biodivers Conserv 17: 2097-2113. (pdf)

Trivedi et al. (2008): Potential effects of climate change on plant communities in three montane nature reserves in Scotland, UK. Biolocial Conservation 141: 1665-1675. (pdf)


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