Student information

MSc thesis subject: Characterise landscape dynamics related to tropical deforestation with innovative methods and global spatial datasets

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.

In the last few years, there were contradictory trends of a slowdown of deforestation rates in some tropical regions but an increase in others, with possibly some leakage effects. Global spatial datasets on forest cover and loss (e.g. Hansen et al, 2013) are often used for time-series of forest area change for a certain region or country (fig 1). While this information is valuable, there is a need for a deeper understanding and quantification of landscape dynamics (e.g. fragmentation, heterogeneity of land use, forest-agriculture transitions, trend analysis) associated with forest cover loss.


  • Identify novel methods to quantify landscape dynamics (literature search)
  • Apply the most appropriate method(s) to assess landscape dynamics and transitions related to tropical deforestation (regional or global)


  • Hansen, M.C., Potapov, P.V., Moore, R., Hancher, M., Turubanova, S.A.A., Tyukavina, A., Thau, D., Stehman, S.V., Goetz, S.J., Loveland, T.R. and Kommareddy, A., 2013. High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change. science, 342(6160), pp.850-853.
  • Austin, K.G., González-Roglich, M., Schaffer-Smith, D., Schwantes, A.M. and Swenson, J.J., 2017. Trends in size of tropical deforestation events signal increasing dominance of industrial-scale drivers. Environmental Research Letters, 12(5), p.054009.
  • Nowosad, J. and Stepinski, T.F., 2019. Stochastic, empirically‐informed model of landscape dynamics and its application to deforestation scenarios. Geophysical Research Letters.


  • Preferable knowledge of R, geoscripting

Theme(s): Integrated Land Monitoring