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Low-cost airborne remote sensing for tropical forest restoration

Supervisor: David Coomes and External Co-Supervisors.

Reference Code: B230

Importance of the area of research:  In 2007, the RSPB became the first organisation to manage (with local partners) an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC), under an Indonesian government initiative.  One of the main challenges facing the RSPB is how to obtain accurate, up-to-date information on site conditions over its 98,000-ha reserve of degraded forest at Harapan. This project addresses that issue.  Since similar problems are reported across the rapidly expanding network of ERCs,  the research will have significant impact beyond Harapan reserve.

Project summary:  This project aims to develop new UAV-based techniques for monitoring tropical forest recovery.  There are about 200 million hectares of degraded forest in the Southeast Asia, the restoration of which would achieve multiple societal goals, enhancing ecosystem services and providing habitat for endangered species.  Low cost imagery collected by UAVs hold promise as a tool for monitoring these recovering forests,  but this tool remains underdeveloped.

Please contact the lead supervisor directly for further information relating to what the successful applicant will be expected to do, training to be provided, and any specific educational background requirements.


  • Harrison, R. D. (2005) Destructive fires are not just Indonesia's problem. Nature 433:13;
  • Harrison, R.D. & Swinfield T. (2015) Restoration of logged humid tropical forests: An experimental programme at Harapan Rainforest, Indonesia. Tropical Conservation Science 8, 4-16;
  • Harrison, R.D., Tan, S., Plotkin, J.B., Slik, F., Detto, M., Brenes, T., Itoh, A., Davies, S. (2013) Consequences of defaunation for a tropical tree community. Ecology Letters 16, 687-694;