Project Overview

Landcover change dynamics outside Church Forests in the northern Ethiopian Highlands

Faculty Sponsor

Peter Scull (




In the South Gondar region of northern Ethiopia, the vast majority of native forests surround churches and monasteries. Thousands of these “church forests” exist as islands of biodiversity in an ocean of degraded land, representing some of the final sanctuaries for many of Ethiopia’s endangered plant and invertebrate taxa. Conservation strategies, however, are limited by the absence of basic inventory data (e.g. number of church forests, changes in forest status over time, land-use change, etc.). The primary objective of the project is to continue to build on the inventory of church forests in Northern Ethiopia, and to compare this inventory to historical imagery to determine changes in the church forest mosaic over time. The research will contribute to an ongoing investigation into the drivers of forest preservation or destruction, currently funded by the National Science Foundation.

Student Qualifications

The summer research student will use GoogleEarth, ArcMap and other GIS-related software to perform the landcover change analysis. GIS experience and coursework (e.g. GEOG245) desired, but not necessary.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/15/2017 and close on 02/07/2017

<< Back to List

If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (