The interdisciplinary nature, integrated approach and the ability to reason on long-term issues are key dimensions in the training of bioengineers in forests and natural areas. This is reflected by:
- grouping of training activities: combined exercises, joint projects, case studies, weekly excursions, forestry tour (a one week study trip in Belgium and/or abroad), visits to companies;
- the integration of various approaches and tools (field observations, laboratory analyses, data bases, information systems, permanent experimental plots, …), on different spatial scales (from a tree to a catchment basin, from a regional level to a sub-continental level) and temporal scales;
- student teamwork, training students to share their skills;
- the transversal educational offer (organized by other faculties).
A full array of pedagogical tools is placed at the students’ disposal.
The Louvain-la-Neuve campus includes a 200 ha forest which is owned by UCL: the Bois de Lauzelle. The forest serves as a model for the scientific, pedagogical, economical, ecological and recreational functions of a wood. Several special devises have been put in place in the Bois de Lauzelle that are used both for its daily management as well as for educational purposes. An example is the simulation area for the marking of trees, which, combined with a computer programme, allows to analyse the effects of the choices made during the process; but also a permanent inventory device for ligneous resources. Students learn to recognise ligneous species more easily thanks to the diversity of the species present on the site, both in the Bois de Lauzelle and in town. Students also have access to an arboretum of coniferous species.
The Forestry Department also manages various experimental devices in the Walloon and Brussels regions. These provide students with the opportunity to train themselves in the understanding and management of forest ecosystems.
A decentralised field laboratory, the “Centre de développement Agro-Forestier (CDAF)”, conducts applied research on trees and forests. Situated in Chimay, the laboratory gives access to a great diversity of natural environments. It also accommodates students in the framework of internships and dissertations.
Training for research. through research, which is essential for conceptual and innovative awareness and developing intellectual rigour, is reflected by different types of activities:
- producing a final dissertation and taking part in dissertation seminars;
- participation in subject seminars providing direct contact with young researchers working in the field of environment science and land development;
- presentation of seminars by students within the research groups, during their master dissertation.
The application of skills, knowledge and techniques that students have acquired and how they use them together is taken into account in the realisation of an integrated project as well as during the “forestry tour”. This one week field trip during the second year, allows students to gain practical experience. These are important learning activities in addition to the realisation of a dissertation which, in the view of the Faculty, remains the most important part of training for research.
Through the close connection between the teaching and research, the development of new tools and new approaches is the subject of advanced training from the beginning of the 2nd cycle and is therefore central to this Master programme. All this enables graduates of this programme to be able to make rapid use of new techniques and approaches in their early professional experience.