Applied methods in protection of natural heritage

Subject description

For its size, the territory of Slovenia is extraordinarily diverse in terms of biodiversity, ecosystem types, and geological formations, together referred to as “natural heritage”. In addition to the innate value of natural heritage, it is essential for providing a variety of social and ecological services to society. Consequently, much emphasis is placed on conserving natural heritage, yet this is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve due to the growing influence of humanity, namely, from climate change, habitat degradation, and invasive species. A key to successful conservation is to understand how both natural (ecological and geological) and anthropogenic processes influence natural heritage and to design management strategies that either maintain or restore the desired components of natural heritage in our rapidly changing environment. To this end, the main themes covered in the class include:


  • Nature protection system in Slovenia and worldwide: protected areas and other direct and indirect legal measures
  • Stakeholder analysis in natural haritage conservation
  • The importance of stakeholder involvement in nature conservation measures
  • Interpreting nature (options, ways of choosing the most appropriate approach to presenting nature to target groups) and directing tourism
  • Disturbance ecology (i.e. how do processes like forest harvesting, burning, or grazing influence vegetation structure, composition, and dynamics)
  • Methods for quantifying patterns and processes in plant communities
  • Methods in historical ecology
  • The science and practice of restoration ecology
  • Consideration of spatial and temporal scale (i.e. moving from individual sites to landscapes, and from years to decades)
  • Linking life history traits of protected species of interest with habitat characteristics and their dynamics in space and time
  • Natural and anthropogenic modification of abiotic features (i.e soil, water, landforms, roads, hydrological constructions, etc) of natural heritage
  • Managing invasive species
  • Long-term management of natural heritage in the context of climate change
  • Analysis of stakeholder interests in natural heritage
  • Methods of communicating the importance of natural heritage with the public

The subject is taught in programs

Objectives and competences

The overall goal is to provide advanced knowledge on both scientific and management aspects of nature heritage. The class focuses on both biotic and abiotic components of natural heritage, and also includes a social science component due to the various stakeholder groups often involved with the protection and management of natural heritage. The class is individually tailored to the doctoral thesis of each student. All aspects of the class have a strong focus on methods to both quantify processes and implement conservation and restoration oriented management plans.

Teaching and learning methods

The content will be in large part tailored to the individual research interests of the candidate. Teaching methods will include:

  • lectures (selected topics) and preparation of a guided seminar
  • consultation, field-work, and involvement in research projects
  • group discussion of selected topics

Expected study results

Knowledge and understanding:


Students will be able to 1) understand and quantify how natural and anthropogenic processes influence a given area/object of natural heritage; 2) design an effective management plan that either maintains or restores the desired features under protection; and 3) assesses the interests of various stakeholder groups in the context of establishing, maintaining, or restoring natural heritage.

Basic sources and literature

Berginc, Mladen, Kremesec Jevšenak, Jelka, Vidic, Jana. Sistem varstva narave v Sloveniji. Ministrstvo za okolje in prostor, 2006.

Leung, Y. F., Spenceley, A., Hvenegaard, G., & Buckley, R. (2018). Tourism and visitor management in protected areas: Guidelines for sustainability. Gland: IUCN.

Restoration Ecology: The New Frontier. 2nd edition. Edited by J. Van Andel and J. Aronson.

Plant Succession: Theory and Prediction. D.C. Glenn-Lewin, R.K. Peet, T.T. Veblen.

Izbrane monografije (znanstveni priročniki) in znanstveni članki iz znanstvenih publikacij, ki pokrivajo kandidatovo raziskovalno področje.

Selected monographs and scientific papers related to the students field of research.

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