Brief description

Sustainable, science-based management of forests and woodlands in mountain areas.

Mountain forests fulfil a multitude of functions worldwide. They are ecologically complex and biologically diverse, and one currently finds nearly half of the world’s biodiversity hot spots there. Plants and animals which have evolved in the isolation of mountains demonstrate a special adaptability to the extreme variability of the topography, climate and soils. Many mountain forests have thus reached a high degree of endemism.

In recent years, mountain forests have come under increasing pressure in many parts of the world. The highest rate of deforestation worldwide takes place in tropical upland forests ( 1.1 percent/year). The increase in population and industrialisation in lowland and urban areas has led to a growing demand for timber, firewood and water as well as agricultural land and re-creation areas.

Mountain forests also provide important products for human welfare and survival, such as water, timber and non-timber products. Half of the world’s population depends on mountain water from the water reservoirs of this world. Mountain people have learned to utilise forests as an inseparable component of the complex land use systems of many mountain areas.

Mountain forests worldwide are threatened by overexploitation of resources and environmental degradation. To guarantee the protection and conservation of multifunctional mountain forests, a balance has to be found between the needs of mountain communities and the urban/lowland population, as well as between the productive capacity of mountain forests and their protection and conservation.


„We define Mountain Forestry as sustainable, science-based  management of forests and woodlands in mountain areas, taking specific ecological, ethical, technical, social, economical and political conditions of complex mountain systems into consideration.“

With the establishment of a Master of Science in Mountain Forestry, BOKU, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, recognises the need for formal education in mountain research and science. The curriculum emphasises interdisciplinary work and learning by doing, and it fosters intercultural communication and team-work, participatory thinking and bottom-up approaches.


  • To provide a focussed and specialised education in managing mountain forest resources with a global perspective.
  • To teach students to recognise and solve problems occurring in forest management and conservation in mountain regions.
  • To strengthen interdisciplinary approaches in mountain forestry, integrating aspects of engineering, socio-economics, natural sciences and other subject-specific fields in mountain forest management.
  • To provide methods and approaches appropriate for complex social and economic environments with special emphasis on developing countries.
  • To strengthen international co-operation and to create a global network of mountain foresters.

After 2 years of intensive and successful studies you will be awarded the degree "Master of Science in Mountain Forestry" / "MScMF". The study - program is only taught in english language.

Career prospects

As a graduate of the International Master's programme in Mountain Forestry students gain a wide range of technical, academic, and interpersonal skills enabling them to obtain top professional positions in both the national and international arena. Graduates are not only restricted to professional activities in highland or mountain regions but may be fully integrated into general forest sciences within research and development institutions, the public and private sector, non-government organisations or communitiy services. Graduates work in areas such as forest management, forest extension, wildlife management, forest policy and practice, research as well as administration.