Ecological Restoration of Upland Areas: Revegetation and Damage Avoidance

Running dates: Aug.-Oct., 2024 (on site in Tromsø Aug 29th – Sep 10th)

Application deadline: June 1st, 2024 (guest status for non-UiT students) and July 1st, 2024 (both UiT and non-UiT for class seats).

Application: see below

Location: Tromsø (UiT)


Course leader

Practical info

The responsible institution is UiT. To be admitted to the course you must register at UiT. UiTs local course code is BIO-8034.

Course start-up will be in mid august (between 12th and 16th) with a short online introduction for about 1 hour. We will arrange the exact date and time in conjunction with the registered students. We know that some people may still be in the field at that time so we might be able to do this online start-up in the evening if that suits everyone best.

The on site part will be in Tromsø Aug. 29th to Sep. 10th. Students should read the background material provided before starting the intensive part of the course in Tromsø.

How to apply

Important! Registration is binding! Do not apply for a course unless you are sure that you can attend.

Applicants for this PhD course must be a PhD candidate at one of the Scandinavian institutions that are a partner in the PHOTOSYNTECH Research School. The course is intended for PhD students with basic knowledge in relevant fields of plant ecology and environmental sciences. 

This PhD course will run together with a course for students at Masters level, so there will be a mixture of PhD and MSc students.

PhD students at UiT apply for a seat by registering for classes in StudentWeb before July 1st. The registration starts 15. May.

Other applicants apply for admission through SøknadsWeb before 1. June. Application code 9301. For applicants who are granted a seat, a study right will be created, and these applicants  apply for a seat by registering for classes in StudentWeb before July 1st.

The course is run with financial support from the national graduate school Photosyntech.

Please let Sunniva know as soon as possible if you 1) Absolutely want to do the course and will be applying, and 2) if you are interested but not sure if you will be able to take it. This info is very important for us to help with course planning and external lecturers.

Course content

Students will gain the knowledge necessary for planning and carrying out restoration projects in upland areas. They will learn how to prepare and to follow a restoration plan, and to reduce the consequences of human activities in vulnerable ecosystems.

Terrestrial upland ecosystems in cool climates (hilly or mountainous areas and some at lower elevations in the Far North) have slow-forming, nutrient-poor thin soils, and often slow-growing plants and low vegetation cover. This makes them particularly vulnerable to degradation, especially from footpath erosion.

Although the course is focussed on the avoidance of damage and the restoration of footpaths, the principles covered can be applied to the avoidance, mitigation and restoration of damage to upland/arctic habitats as a result of other recreational activities (e.g. ski-resorts) and to the installation of infrastructure (wind farms, mobile phone masts, tracks, pipelines, cabins/buildings, etc.).

This course will discuss the ways in which upland ecosystems may become degraded and the vegetation types that are the most vulnerable. It will demonstrate methods to avoid future damage as well as restoration and revegetation techniques to be employed at the small and large scale.

Students will be taken to visit a range of sites in the Tromsø area to demonstrate erosion and will be shown ongoing restoration projects. In addition, the students will be introduced to a range of non-university organisations and consultancies that are involved in ecological restoration.

Teachers: Prof. Elisabeth Cooper (AMB/UiT), Prof. Anne E. Bjune (University of Bergen) and Dr. Alistair Headley (PlantEcol, Scotland). Input from other local experts.

The course will be run in Autumn semester 2024. There are 3 components to the course:

  1. Preparation (at home): Students should carefully read the literature provided.
  2. Intensive teaching (at UiT Tromsø) within a 2-week period.
  3. Assessment (at home): development and presentation of a detailed restoration management plan.

Course outcome


Upon successful completion of this course, the student:

  • Can explain the challenges posed by different types of ecological degradation.
  • Can describe why certain upland vegetation types and terrain are most vulnerable to damage and erosion.
  • Can explain various ecological restoration methods and the differences between them.
  • Will know how to reduce the consequences of human activities in vulnerable upland ecosystems.
  • Can explain the relevance and importance of long-term data for management and restoration of upland ecosystems.


After completing the course, the student is able to:

  • Evaluate the relevance of different restoration methods for specific ecological problems.
  • Design a detailed a restoration and management plan for an upland area.
  • Monitor the restoration of a damaged upland area and evaluate the success of the plan.
  • Give concrete advice on how to prevent or reduce future environmental degradation.

General competence

The student:

  • Can demonstrate a practical use for ecological knowledge.
  • Can communicate their arguments in written and oral form.
  • Can demonstrate leadership in a restoration project.
  • Has contact with relevant experts in non-university organisations/ small consultancies/ local councils etc.

Teaching methods

Students should read the background material provided before starting the intensive part of the course in Tromsø which consists of approx. 10-16 hours of lectures and workshops, 6 hours seminars, and 2-3 days of field excursions.

Relevant safety training will be provided at the start of each field excursion


Students will have 3-4 weeks to write an assignment in the form of a restoration plan. This will be the written part of their exam, deadline will be early-mid October.

The oral part of the exam will be the presentation of the student’s own restoration plan to the whole class, and it will be online in mid-end October.

Examination:Weighting:Duration:Grade scale:
Oral exam5/1030 MinutesPassed / Not Passed
Assignment5/10Passed / Not Passed
Coursework requirements:
To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:
Attendance to all lecturesApproved – not approved
Attendance to all workshops and seminarsApproved – not approved
Attendance to field excursionApproved – not approved
Seminar presentationApproved – not approved


Who can apply as a singular course student:

  • PhD student enrolled at another institution than UiT. PhD students must upload a document from their university stating that there are registered PhD students. This group of applicants does not have to prove English proficiency and are exempt from semester fee.
  • Holders of a master´s degree of five years or 3+2 years (or equivalent) may be admitted. These applicants must upload a Master´s Diploma with Diploma Supplement / English translation of the diploma. Applicants from listed countries must document proficiency in English. To find out if this applies to you, see the following list: Proficiency in English must be documented – list of countries. For more information on accepted English proficiency tests and scores, as well as exemptions from the English proficiency tests, please see the following document: Proficiency in english – PhD level studies

Number of participants: 5 (minimum) to 20 (maximum). The course will only run with a minimum of 4 PHOTOSYNTECH PhD students registered.



For questions regarding the research school

For Photosyntech: contact Sunniva Katharina Thode at