Thesis subject

MSc thesis topic: Conserving Sherbro River Estuary, Sierra Leone (Establish current levels ofabove-ground and below-ground carbon stock of the mangroves)

To help conserve nature, and combat climate change, we need to monitor land use change, such as forest and wetlands degradation. Monitoring and tracking change over time helps identify causes (natural vs human-induced) of land transitions and can inform policy interventions.

The Sherbro River Estuary is a 139,549 hectares area in Sierra Leone with high levels of biodiversity and mangrove forests. The area is under threat from deforestation and a key priority for conservation. A recently launched project aims to conserve and protect, and potentially rehabilitate mangrove forests in this area while creating new sources of income for coastal communities. Once operational, the project hopes to receive sustainably funding through certified carbon credits, and to share revenues among local communities, local and national governments, and investors.

There is a need to create a knowledge base to help policy making for the estuary. In particular, the project seeks partners to help (1) undertake an environmental assessment to establish baseline conditions including specifically the rate of deforestation of mangrove forests, biodiversity an assessment of carbon stock and threat-levels thereto, and establish the annual carbon sequestration rate; (2) establish a socio-economic basis for developing a nature-based and resilient livelihood project including assessing land use and livelihood changes in the region and gaps, needs, and challenges faced by the coastal communities.

This project is a collaborative effort with researchers from the social sciences and forest ecology.


  • Identify a range of methodologies by which above-ground and below-ground carbon stock of mangrove forests can be measured, including considering established parameters in advanced image processing and multivariate statistical methods (chemometrics) in conjunction with geostatistical techniques, allometric equations, machine learning, etc.;
  • Collect and analyze soil samples as part of the methodology, including geo-tagging the sample locations;
  • Establish carbon stock (above and below ground) in the region using the identified methodology;
  • Establish the annual rate of carbon sequestration;

Theme(s): Integrated Land Monitoring