Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Using Global Biomass datasets to support Project monitoring in the Amazon

Globally forests are important for the provision of goods and services such as carbon storage and watershed protection. Donors such as the World Bank are supporting sustainable forest management and restoration in the major forest biomes including the Amazon. Available Earth Observation data, including global datasets on biomass can potentially help to assess progress in these projects.

ESA’s CCI Biomass  product, shows the spatial distribution of Above Ground Biomass (AGB) per pixel. AGB information can be used to support quantification of biomass change, which is useful to identify degradation and forest loss for REDD+ and other forest monitoring purposes.

Although AGB can only be directly measured by destructive sampling, remote sensing allows large area estimations of AGB.

Biomass maps produced at the global level however have some limitations in that their accuracy varies across biomes and regions. Understanding the utility of a global map at the (sub)-national level is crucial.

The Amazon Sustainable Landscape (ASL) Programme is led by World Bank, and comprises of a number of smaller projects promoting sustainable forest management in the region. The potential for Earth Observation data to support these ongoing projects will be explored as part of this thesis. In particular, the potential for a global biomass map to provide useful information for project activities will be tested.

The aims of the ASL programme include setting up protected areas, watershed protection and forest restoration, all of which can potentially benefit from biomass information. Understanding the user needs as part of the project will determine which sort of information is most useful.  


This thesis is linked to the ESA funded project, in which WU is a partner:


  • Using available ground data, assess the accuracies and utility of the CCI Biomass maps for the area of interest
  • Assess the user needs for biomass information in the relevant World Bank Projects – in relation to indicators used to monitor project progress
  • Provide information from the CCI Biomass maps which can contribute to project reporting needs



  • Good use of GIS software – or alternative such as R
  • No prerequisite courses

Theme(s): Sensing & measuring; Integrated Land Monitoring