Student information

MSc thesis subject: Assessment of forest degradation across the tropics

Deforestation and forest degradation continue to be critical topics in the global environmental, biodiversity conservation and climate change agendas. In spite of many commitments, forest continue to be degraded and lost at an alarming rate.

There is a need for greater emphasis on forest degradation, and its interaction with deforestation. Forest degradation is in some ways as important as complete forest loss, but is hardly recognised by policy makers or civil society. Forest degradation is a gradual subtle process, often over large areas, which makes it much harder to quantify and monitor than deforestation. There is need to assess the state and the trends of forest quality. Spatial analysis using available global datasets and/or remote sensing methods can be useful to asses forest degradation.


  • Investigate (novel) methods of assessing forest degradation (literature search)
  • Determine the appropriate forest quality/degradation indicators
  • Asses the state, and if possible the trends, of forest degradation, and identify how different aspects of forest quality change over time (e.g. forest cover, carbon stock, ecosystem) using global datasets and/or remote sensing methods. This can be done across the tropics or for a specific region/country.

Literature / links

  • Langner, A., Miettinen, J., Kukkonen, M., Vancutsem, C., Simonetti, D., Vieilledent, G., Verhegghen, A., Gallego, J. and Stibig, H.J., 2018. Towards operational monitoring of forest canopy disturbance in evergreen rain forests: A test case in continental Southeast Asia. Remote Sensing, 10(4), p.544.
  • Mitchell, A.L., Rosenqvist, A. and Mora, B., 2017. Current remote sensing approaches to monitoring forest degradation in support of countries measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems for REDD+. Carbon balance and management, 12(1), p.9.
  • Shapiro, A.C., N. Aguilar-Amuchastegui, P. Hostert and JF Bastin., Using fragmentation to assess degradation of forest edges in Democratic Republic of Congo. Carbon Balance and Management, 2016. 11(1): p. 11.
  • Vogt P, KH Riitters, C Estreguil, J Kozak, TG Wade, JD Wickham. 2007. Mapping spatial patterns with morphological image processing. Landscape Ecol 22:171–177. doi: 10.1007/s10980-006-9013-2

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