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Maksym Matsala

Maksym Matsala


PhD in Forest Science (2021). My background is in natural forest dynamics, forest remote sensing and GIS, ecosystem services and carbon budget estimation, and a bit of fire ecology.


In 2024 I will be a course leader on PhD course Introduction to GIS for applications in forest and landscape (examiner Dr. Emma Holmstrom). 

I was assisting in teaching in 2023 on some other courses: Forest modelling for sustainable forest management (course leader Prof. Urban Nilsson), and GIS in Forest and Landscape (course leader Dr. Emma Holmstrom).


During my PhD studies, I was primarily focused on natural forest dynamics in Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine. This fascinating area was set aside after the infamous nuclear disaster (1986). However, the absence of direct human impact caused more positive effects on local flora and fauna, than radioactive contamination. Meanwhile, long-term effects of reduced forest management and past silvicultural legacies in Chornobyl forests are only to be revealed. See our interactive ArcGIS Online story map to get more information.

Since 2022, I am leading the mapping efforts of a small international research group towards mapping war-induced damage to Ukraine's forests. We tried to address both present (damage after shelling and fires), past (pre-war disturbance regimes and climate impact), and future (possible impact on future fire hazard) dimensions of this ecological and social catastrophe. You may investigate our findings for year 2022 at an interactive web map.

My current research at SLU is focused on studying landscape-scale dimension of forest fires in Sweden. In this field I closely work under the supervision of Dr. Igor Drobyshev.

Since 2024, my research efforts will be also focusing on simulating thinning in mixed forests of Sweden, under supervision of Prof. Urban Nilsson.


I continue my cooperation with colleagues in Ukraine (NUBIP) and Austria (IIASA). Our research network is focused on (but not limited to) mapping war-induced damage to forests in Ukraine, uncovering forest dynamics in Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, modelling ecosystem services in human-impacted forest ecosystems.


PhD: Dynamics of Forest Cover in Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (NUBIP, Kyiv, Ukraine), December 2021 (supervisor Prof. Andrii Bilous)

Internship: Ersnt Mach Scholarship (BOKU, Vienna, Austria), February-March 2020 (supervisor Prof. Rupert Seidl)

Non-academic work: GIS Assistant, Officer, Senior Officer (2020-2022) at international non-governmental humanitarian organization IMPACT Initiatives (Kyiv office)


In 2024, I will supervise one Master thesis.

Selected publications

Matsala, M., Myroniuk, V., Borsuk, O. et al. Wall-to-wall mapping of carbon loss within the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone after the 2020 catastrophic wildfire. Annals of Forest Science 80, 26 (2023).

Matsala, M., Senf, C., Bilous, A., Diachuk, P., Zadorozhniuk, R., Burianchuk, M. & et al. The impact of radioactive contamination on tree regeneration and forest development in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Applied Vegetation Science, 25, e12631 (2022). 

Matsala, M., Bilous, A., Myroniuk, V., Holiaka, D., Schepaschenko, D., See, L., & Kraxner, F. The Return of Nature to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: Increases in Forest Cover of 1.5 Times Since the 1986 Disaster. Forests, 12(8), 1024 (2021).

Matsala, M., Bilous, A., Feshchenko, R., Matiashuk, R., Bilous, S., Kovbasa, Y. Spatial and compositional structure of European oak urban forests in Kyiv city, Ukraine. J. For. Sci., 67(3):143-153 (2021).

Matsala, M., Bilous, A., Myroniuk, V., Diachuk, P., Burianchuk, M. & Zadorozhniuk, R. Natural forest regeneration in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: predictive mapping and model diagnostics. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 36:2-3, 164-176 (2021). 

Matsala, M., Myroniuk, V., Bilous, A., Terentiev, A., Diachuk, P., Zadorozhniuk, R. An indirect approach to predict deadwood biomass in forests of Ukrainian Polissya using Landsat images and terrestrial data. Forestry Studies, 73, 1, 107-124 (2020).