Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Identifying anthropogenic pressure on beach vegetation by means of footsteps on UAV images

The physical requirements of new dune development and vegetation growth have previously been researched, but a second factor that determines their growth is human usage of the beach.

Coastal systems are important for many ecosystem services such as coastal protection, biodiversity and recreation. Though balancing the management of these is a difficult matter as they often times requires different and conflicting approaches. This is especially the case for the growth of vegetation on the upper beach. To know the response of vegetation to anthropogenic stress we need to know where on the beach this pressure is greater.

Therefore, we want to use footsteps on UAV images to classify beach sections by means of pattern recognition. This would be a way to map visitation pressure and link this to the amount of vegetation present. The images available are from a field experiment conducted in the summer of 2021.

Relevance to research/projects

This is project would contribute to creating insights into the interaction between beach usage and vegetation growth. This is within the ReAShore project at PEN (Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation).


  • To use pattern recognition to classify footsteps in UAV images.
  • To map the (relative) human visitation pressure of different beach sections by the number of footsteps.
  • To link the human visitation pressure to the vegetation cover of different beach sections.



  • Knowledge of pattern recognition

Theme(s): Sensing & measuring; Human – space interaction