TU Berlin

Geoinformation in Environmental PlanningFörster, Michael

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Dr. Michael Förster


Senior Scientist

Phone: +49 (0)30 / 314 - 72 79 8


Room: EB 236b
Consultation hour: by arrangement

Personal Data
Date and place of birth: 1975 (Burgstädt, Saxony, Germany)
Employment and academic vita
Visiting Scientist at the Joint Research Center (JRC) in Ispra, Italy (Bioeconomy Unit)
Visiting Scientist at the University Utrecht, Netherlands (Department of Physical Geography)
Visiting Scientist at the European Academy Bolzano (EURAC), Italy (Institute for Applied Remote Sensing)
since 2009
Post-doctoral Research Fellow
Technische Universität Berlin, Institute of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Department of Geoinformation Processing for Landscape and Environmental Planning
Research Scientist
Technische Universität Berlin, Institute of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Department of Geoinformation Processing for Landscape and Environmental Planning
Consultant and GIS-Coordinator
Environmental Consulting and Planning Agency - Froelich & Sporbeck, Potsdam, Germany
Research Associate
Geo-Forschungs-Zentrum (GFZ) Potsdam, Section 1.4 (Remote Sensing)
Exchange Student (ERASMUS)
University of Southampton, UK
Studies of Geoecology
Universität Potsdam, Germany
Diploma, University of Potsdam Grade: 1,1 (on a scale from 1 to 6, where 1 is highest)
Doctorate, Technische Universität Berlin, summa cum laude

Research Topics

  • Development of methods to analyse the dynamics of ecosystems from time-series (optical and SAR), especially for degradation processes or abrupt damages (e.g. caused by fire or storms)
  • Relation of temporal and spectral signals to plant traits and biophysical variables (xantophyll, nitrogen, chlorophyll and fluorescence)
  • Derivation of operationalizable and comprehensive environmental indicators that are needed for the effective implementation of management measures (e.g. within the framework of the European NATURA 2000 requirements) or for a better understanding of ecosystems
  • Interaction of vegetation structure, which can be measured with LiDAR or SAR, with spectral information for the evaluation of forest properties
  • Combining spatially very high resolution data (drones) with satellite data to understand ecohydrological processes and especially to derive hydrological variables such as soil moisture content or interception


Adapting a Natura 2000 field guideline for a remote sensing-based assessment of heathland conservation status
Citation key Schmidt20170
Author Schmidt, J. and Fassnacht, F. E. and Neff, C. and Lausch, A. and Kleinschmit, B. and Förster, M. and Schmidtlein, S.
Pages 61-71
Year 2017
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2017.04.005
Journal International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Volume 60
Abstract Remote sensing can be a valuable tool for supporting nature conservation monitoring systems. However, for many areas of conservation interest, there is still a considerable gap between field-based operational monitoring guidelines and the current remote sensing-based approaches. This hampers application in practice of the latter. Here, we propose a remote sensing approach for mapping the conservation status of Calluna-dominated Natura 2000 dwarf shrub habitats that is closely related to field mapping schemes. We transferred the evaluation criteria of the field guidelines to three related variables that can be captured by remote sensing: (1) coverage of the key species, (2) stand structural diversity, and (3) co-occurring species. Continuous information on these variables was obtained by regressing ground reference data from field surveys and UAV flights against airborne hyperspectral imagery. Merging the three resulting quality layers in an RGB representation allowed for illustrating the habitat quality in a continuous way. User-defined thresholds can be applied to this stack of quality layers to derive an overall assessment of habitat quality in terms of nature conservation, i.e. the conservation status. In our study, we found good accordance of the remotely sensed data with field-based information for the three variables key species, stand structural diversity and co-occurring vegetation (R2 of 0.79, 0.69, and 0.71, respectively) and it was possible to derive meaningful habitat quality maps. The conservation status could be derived with an accuracy of 65%. In interpreting these results it should be considered that the remote sensing based layers are independent estimates of habitat quality in their own right and not a mere replacement of the criteria used in the field guidelines. The approach is thought to be transferable to similar regions with minor adaptions. Our results refer to Calluna heathland which we consider a comparably easy target for remote sensing. Hence, the transfer of field guidelines to remote sensing indicators was rather successful in this case but needs further evaluation for other habitats.
Bibtex Type of Publication Kleinschmit
Link to original publication Download Bibtex entry

Other Publications


Rocchini, D., Salvatori, N., Beierkuhnlein, C., Chiarucci, A., de Boissieu, F., Förster, M., Garzon-Lopez, C., Gillespie, T. W., Hauffe, H., He, K., Kleinschmit, B., Lenoir, J., Malavasi, M., Moudrý, V., Nagendra, H., Payne, D., Šímová, P., Torresani, M., Wegmann, M. and Féret, J.-B. (2021): From local spectral species to global spectral communities: A benchmark for ecosystem diversity estimate by remote sensing.. Ecological Informatics, 61, pp. 1-10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoinf.2020.101195


Fersch, B., Francke, T., Heistermann, M., Schrön, M., Döpper, V., Jakobi, J., Baroni, G., Blume, T., Bogena, H., Budach, C., Gränzig, T., Förster, M., Güntner, A., Hendricks Franssen, H., Kasner, M., Köhli, M., Kleinschmit, B., Kunstmann, H., Patil, A., Rasche, D., Scheiffele, L., Schmidt, U., Szulc-Seyfried, S., Weimar, J., Zacharias, S., Zreda, M., Heber, B., Kiese, R., Mares, V., Mollenhauer, H., Völksch, I. and Oswald, S. (2020): A dense network of cosmic-ray neutron sensors for soil moisture observation in a highly instrumented pre-Alpine headwater catchment in Germany. Earth System Science Data, 12, pp. 2289-2309. doi: https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-12-2289-2020

Fenske, K., Feilhauer, H., Förster, M., Stellmes, M. and Waske, B. (2020): Hierarchical classification with subsequent aggregation of heathland habitats using an intra-annual RapidEye time-series. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 87, pp. 1-13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2019.102036

Döpper, V., Gränzig, T., Kleinschmit, B. and Förster, M. (2020): Challenges in UAS-Based TIR Imagery Processing: Image Alignment and Uncertainty Quantification.. remote sensing, 12(1552), pp. 1-22. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12101552


Kattenborn, T., Lopatina, J., Förster, M., Braun, A. C. and Fassnacht, F. E. (2019): UAV data as alternative to field sampling to map woody invasive species based on combined Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 227(2019), pp. 61-73.


Holtgrave, A.-K., Förster, M., Greifeneder, F., Notarnicola, C. and Kleinschmit, B. (2018): Estimation of Soil Moisture in Vegetation-Covered Floodplains with Sentinel-1 SAR Data Using Support Vector Regression. PFG – Journal of Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Geoinformation Science, 2018, pp. 85–101.

Klinke, R., Kuechly, H., Frick, A., Förster, M., Schmidt, T., Holtgrave, A.-K. a. K. B., Spengler, D. and Neumann, C. (2018): Indicator-Based Soil Moisture Monitoring ofWetlands by Utilizing Sentinel and Landsat Remote Sensing Data. PFG – Journal of Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Geoinformation Science, 2018, pp. 71–84.


Schmidt, J., Fassnacht, F. E., Neff, C., Lausch, A., Kleinschmit, B., Förster, M. and Schmidtlein, S. (2017): Adapting a Natura 2000 field guideline for a remote sensing-based assessment of heathland conservation status. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 60, pp. 61-71. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2017.04.005


Gärtner, P., Förster, M. and Kleinschmit, B. (2016): The benefit of synthetically generated RapidEye and Landsat 8 data fusion time series for riparian forest disturbance monitoring. Remote Sensing of Environment, 2016(177), pp. 237-247. doi: doi:10.1016/j.rse.2016.01.028


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