MSc Student

Tim Kirsten

Thesis topic: Assessing the extent and drivers of land degradation in the Little Karoo using a novel method based on satellite imagery and archetype analysis

Supervisors: Prof. Timm Hoffman, Dr Wesley Bell, Dr Vernon Visser



Tim started his research MSc in February 2021 under the supervision of Timm Hoffman and Wesley Bell (of the PCU) and Vernon Visser (of Centre for Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation; SEEC). His project involves creating a map of land degradation for the Succulent Karoo regions of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve in the Western Cape, as well as assessing the drivers of this degradation. To do this, Tim will conduct field sampling, analyse remote sensing data, and run rigorous statistical analyses that include fuzzy classification techniques and random forest models.

In 2020, Tim took part in a 12-month internship programme with C4 EcoSolutions, in which he helped develop climate change adaptation projects for developing countries around the world, and assisted in the revision of the strategy for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) based on thousands of comments received from stakeholders.

Tim completed his BSc in Applied Biology and Environmental & Geographical Science at UCT in 2016-2018, and then his BSc (Honours) in the UCT Biological Sciences department in 2019. He also attended a 3-month semester abroad in the Kruger National Park with the Organization for Tropical Studies in the first half of 2019. His honours thesis involved using a boosted regression tree model to determine environmental correlates of vascular plant species richness in the Greater Cape Floristic Region, under the supervision of Michael Cramer and Tony Verboom.

Tim’s research interests include ecology (particularly at ecosystem and landscape scales), historical land use and land cover change, restoration ecology, conservation science, climate change, earth observation and biodiversity patterns.