FoMo: Remote sensing of the FOrest transition and its ecosystem impacts in MOuntain environments


FoMo: Remote sensing of the FOrest transition


its ecosystem impacts in MOntain environments

FoMo    WP1    WP2    WP3    WP4    WP5 


The process of forest transition, namely the change from decreasing to expanding national forest areas, is currently taking place in several countries, like for example the Vietnam or the Costa Rica (Meyfroidt and Lambin, 2011). These transitions are often associated with positive feedbacks on ecosystem goods and services, that is the benefits that people obtain from natural capital (Costanza et al., 1997).  It is important to notice that  this forest recovery is often taking place on marginal lands, such as mountain environments (Figure 1). But assessing the rate, the spatial patterns and the ecosystem impacts of forest cover change in these environments is quite challenging given the ruggedness and the inaccessibility of mountain regions.  That’s why remote sensing techniques are of course a privileged tool for this purpose, even if this tool suffers from some methodological challenges, this due to topographical and shadowing effects. This study, which aim is to improve the understanding of the relationships that exist between forest cover changes and the provision of ecosystem services,  is importantly relevant for climate change policies with respect to limitations of Greenhouse gases emissions from land cover activities such as reforestation and avoided deforestation, as part of the REDD scheme.


 Figure 1:  Different mountain ranges have been selected for the FoMo project

(A: Bhutanese Himalayas, B: Carpahians, C: Ecuadorian Andes).



Objectives and Work Packages (WPs)


The major objectives of the project are:

- The adaptation of remote sensing techniques aiming at analysing land cover and forest cover changes for particular conditions of mountain environments 

- Based on these specific pre-processing steps, the mapping and monitoring of forest cover dynamics (increase, decrease, degradation, regeneration...) at large scale

- A better understanding of the impact of forest transition on changes in ecosystem goods and services

- A sound scientific basis relying on remote sensing products to arbitrate trade-offs between land use and ecosystem services for multiple agents


The project is divided into 5 Work Packages (WPs, Figure 2). Additional information can be find for each of them by clicking on the following links:


WP1: Data acquisition, pre-processing and correction for topographic effects

WP2: Large area mapping 

WP3: Monitoring of forest cover change and degradation

WP4: Mapping of ecosystem services 

WP5: Socio-economic responses to changes in environmental goods and services


Figure 2:  Work packages of the FoMo project.



Study sites


The research is based on 3 mountain sites (Figure 3) in very different geographic contexts for a rich comparative analysis: 

-The Northern Andes, in Ecuador where there are very recent afforestation trends in the Highlands (A)

-The Carpathians mountains, in Eastern Europe where forest transition is driven by decollectivization since the fall of the wall around 1990 (B)

The Himalayas in Bhutan, where we can observe patterns of reforestation since 1980 driven by strong policy interventions (C)


 Figure 3:  Location of the study sites.








Funding for this research has been provided by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) grant number SR/00/133 and abbreviated FoMo for "Remote sensing of the FOrest transition and its ecosystem impacts in MOntain environment.