Natural Resources Management

Become a high-skilled geospatial professional

Learn to utilize geo-spatial data for sustainable agriculture, environment and forests

Master's Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation

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By 2040, the world’s population will reach 9 billion, and we will share the world with an additional 1.4 billion people. This increase is more than the entire population of Africa. At the same time, living standards are improving, leading to a massive increase in demand for food, timber, water and other resources, which are already affected by climate change and a fragmenting environment. Without proper management, serious problems such as deforestation, overgrazing and biodiversity loss are inevitable. Would you like to help turn this situation around, as an environmental manager? Then ITC’s specialisation in Natural Resources Management is the way to go.

Our courses focus on food security, biodiversity and forestry, with a multi-disciplinary approach to specific knowledge, skills and real-world issues. You will learn to use modern GIS and remote sensing technology to gather relevant data about our planet and its natural resources. More to the point, you will learn to translate data into information to support decisions that can lead to a more sustainable use of resources. For your MSc research, you’ll have the option of joining forces with the dedicated ITC research group FORAGES.

Specialization courses 

See the full programme structure for a complete overview of courses in the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation. 

  • Systems approach for management of natural resources (7 credits)

    This course has a multi-disciplinary focus. The students learn to unravel and deal with the complexity and large variation in NRM issues. It challenges the students to develop a common basis for the assessment of the multi-actor, multi-purpose, multi-level and multi-disciplinary nature of Natural Resources Management (NRM).

    Concepts of Natural Resources Management are reviewed and discussed and particular attention is given to the importance of geo-spatial data, techniques and expertise in NRM.

    Students learn to apply systems thinking and analytical reasoning when translating complex real-world situations into conceptual diagrams. This enables them to describe and develop knowledge about how ecosystems work and how human activities make an impact on natural systems. They discover how this step is essential in identifying cause-effect relationships which exist in space and time. Students are also challenged to select biophysical or socio-economic variables that need quantification and how to use remote sensing and GIS to enable assessments. Conceptualising real-world situation also helps students in identifying knowledge gaps and formulating research hypotheses.
    The educational approach applies the principles of experience-based learning and adult education. Students evaluate what happened during exercises and tasks in the course. They also reflect on how this will help them in their professional context and the tasks and processes of NRM where they may become involved in.

    Natural Resources Management is per default a multiple-stakeholder effort. Therefore students will often work in multi-disciplinary teams. The course is characterized by information searches in scientific and non-scientific databases, short presentations, individual and group exercises, "hands-on" learning, games and role play, backwards engineering, field exercises and learning by doing. The students themselves are stimulated to take responsibility in creating an interactive learning environment.

  • From data to geo-information for natural resources management (7 credits)

    Sound management of natural resources requires adequate geo-information describing spatial and temporal dimensions of the ecosystems. This involves - in most cases - large datasets, originating from multiple sources and stakeholders from various disciplines and institutions. The internet plays an increasingly important role, not only for acquiring data but also for storing, sharing and disseminating data. An online information platform allows sharing and exchange of data and information. This implies that data must be acquired, handled, (pre)processed, standardized and their quality and fitness for use must be assessed.

    Based on information requirements for a forest, agricultural or environmental system, the student will learn to implement this on an online platform. After acquisition of data from various on- and off-line sources its fitness for use will be assessed. They will be introduced into statistical tools and techniques for exploratory data analysis and assessment of data quality.

     In a case study that runs through a major part of the course, the students (acting as consultants) work in groups through the process of developing and implementing an online information platform, including  data acquisition, quality assessment, data structuring and standardizing. The usability of the system is shown with a demonstration product.

  • Mapping and monitoring for natural resources management (7 credits)

    The course is structured around three fundamental questions:

    1. What and how much can be found where?
      In mapping the state of the environment (inventories) two approaches can be distinguished, viz a qualitative landscape guided approach and a physical based quantitative approach Theory and practice of both approaches are discussed including field sampling design, field data collection and sampling statistics.
    2. What are the changes in time?
      This section explains the temporal characteristics of natural and cultural ecosystems, theory and practice of change detection and how to analyze, map and interpret hyper temporal data.

    3. How to use measured changes as ‘indicators’ of intervention successes/failures?
      This section focuses on monitoring – based on criteria selection and indicators - of changes in the state of the environment as result of the pressure or impact of human activities (including activities or interventions resulting from planning and decision making) on natural and cultural ecosystems qualities and ecosystem services.

    The aim of this course is to:

    • Provide the theoretical background and practical skills to capture spatial-temporal data.
    • Apply the knowledge and practical skills acquired in the previous step for monitoring purposes.
    • Pposition monitoring in the context of project cycles and the Driving force Pressure State, Impact Response model (DPSIR).
    • Develop a scientific attitude towards selection, justification and application of methods for earth observation and geo-information acquisition for mapping and monitoring of the environment.
  • Environmental modelling: causes and impact of changing resources (7 credits)

    The previous course sections strengthened the ability to inventory natural resources and to detect and assess changes in the environment such as loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, deforestation and forest degradation and threats to food security due to decreased crop yields.

    Addressing such negative changes requires understanding of the processes which degrade the environment. Different methods and techniques are available to reverse resource degradation or alleviate its consequences.

    Proper understanding of cause and effect of changes in natural resources is crucial to achieve this. Inference of causation, however, is a problem in environmental science because of the limited possibility of experimentation.

    In this module, students will study techniques to infer causation from environmental data and to develop models to predict change in the state of the resource base in response to changes in the environment.


Master's specialization

This specialization is part of the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation.

Joint Master's

ITC has entered into partnerships with reputable qualified educational institutes for the purpose of providing joint courses in several countries. Under this arrangement, (part of) the programme, leading to a diploma in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation from the University of Twente, can be conducted at the partner institute.

Key information

Top rated programme
CROHO code
Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
2 years
100% English-taught
Application deadline
1 July 2023
1 July 2024
non EU/EEA
1 June 2023
1 June 2024
15 August 2023
15 August 2024
Starting date
1 September 2023
1 September 2024
End date
25 July 2025
24 July 2026
Tuition fees
Full period 2023 / 2024
full-time, non-EU/EEA
€ 16.750
full-time, EU/EEA
€ 16.750
Additional costs
Cost of living, year
€ 11.500
Insurance, full programme
€ 1.260
Visa, full programme
€ 250