Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Monitoring land cover changes and seasonal variations in the wetlands ecosystem Noorderpark, the Netherlands

Wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services such as freshwater supply, flood control, groundwater recharge and climate change mitigation. They are among the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems. Due to human and natural factors, wetland area and quality continue to decline in most regions of the world. As one of the first international conservation agreements, the 1971 Ramsar Convention aims to conserve and wisely use wetlands and their resources.

The Oostelijke Vechtplassen is an example of a Ramsar site in the province of
Utrecht in the Netherlands. It is also designated as a Natura 2000 site (a coordinated network of protected areas in Europe), where it is listed under the birds directive. It has exceptional aquatic vegetation and is home to more than 20,000 wintering waterbirds. To preserve this nature reserve for the future, the province of Utrecht has carried out restoration work. The nutrient-rich top layer has been removed, nature-friendly banks have been created and water management has been adjusted. To ensure that these measures have been effective and that the desired habitat types occur, monitoring is needed. Remote sensing provides opportunities to characterize and monitor wetland areas and many studies previously attempted to characterize wetland areas at different scales.

Wetland areas can have different types of natural vegetation such as swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, shrubs and forests. Flooding frequency can differ in these areas; some parts are waterlogged while other parts are regularly flooded. While different vegetation types can be mapped with optical remote sensing data, flooding frequency can be better mapped using radar data. ESA’s Sentinel satellite program has significant potential uses. The Sentinel-1 satellite includes a radar system with the capability of collecting cloud-free water- and moisture-specific data. Sentinel-2 incorporates a fine spatial resolution 10-meter multispectral sensor and will orbit with a short, five-day revisit time. The combination of these radar and optical systems holds great promise for wetland mapping, particularly in monitoring changes in wetland areas. Besides, the Netherlands Space Office offers free satellite data from SuperView at 2 meters-spatial resolution.


  • To develop a methodology to map the land cover and/or habitat types for the wetlands area Noorderpark, Utrecht part of the Oostelijke Vechtplassen
  • To monitor changes and seasonal variations in land cover and/or habitat types in the Noorderpark area over time


  • Geoscripting
  • Advanced Earth Observation

Literature and information

Required reading list in case the topic is selected (if different from the literature)

  • See above list

Theme(s): Integrated Land Monitoring