Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Impact of avocado orchards growth, water consumption and deforestation in Michoacán, Mexico.

Avocados have gained popularity worldwide in the past years. Avocado trees are indigenous in Central Mexico, where volcanic soils and a tropical climate provide ideal growing conditions.

This topic will explore the growth in area of avocado plantations in Michoacán, Mexico. The characteristics of the areas where avocados are grown (soil type, other biophysical and anthropogenic factors) will be described. The link between growth in avocado area and deforestation will be assessed using a global deforestation map which is available online. The link between avocado area and changes in water availability (where data are available), and increase in soil degradation (see in the region will also be assessed. Opportunities to mitigate the impact of avocado plantation on the environment can be proposed. The thesis will demonstrate the use of Open Geospatial data.

During the last years avocado consumption in Europe and the rest of the world increased rapidly. Due to the large increase in demand, countries like Chile and Mexico responded by increasing their production. Today, avocado production represents 8.8% of Mexico’s fruit production. According to the Mexican Institute of Agriculture, cattle, rural development,  fishery and food (SAGARPA), from the 2.05 million tons of production in 2018, 1.17 million tons were exported. This number is expected to increase to 1.65 in 2024 and projected to be around 2.14 million tons by 2030. 

Avocado, is also referred to as “green gold” because of the income it represents for locals. In addition to that, increase in avocado demand and therefore production, has led to several environmental impacts such as: biodiversity loss, soil degradation,  increased demand in water usage and deforestation. As an example, an avocado tree consumes around 50 to 60 liters of water per day. In contrast, a pine tree from the region consumes around 11. On the one hand, Michoacán, is the state that produces the most avocados in Mexico, and is therefore important to the country’s economy. On the other hand, Michoacán also hosts the only natural reserve for Monarca butterfly migration. These forests along with other natural areas have been threatened by illegal lodging and rapidly expanding agriculture, with avocado orchards topping the list.



  • Good GIS skills (ArcGIS or QGIS)

Theme(s): Integrated Land Monitoring