Dry tropical forests are facing large-scale conversion and degradation processes and are the most endangered forest type worldwide. We analyse these processes in the dry tropical forest type of miombo woodlands in a rural area of south-central Angola. We show that large-scale conversion to agricultural areas takes place in this area, as does modifi cation of woodland areas, i.e. by degradation due to the extraction of natural resources. By using remote sensing data, spatial drivers of this conversion and its eff ects may be assessed for the time period 1989?2013. We identify settlement dynamics and the location and quality of streets as major underlying determining factors for conversion processes. Since the 1980s, the rate of agricultural expansion has strongly depended on socioeconomic background factors and is currently on a level of ca. 9 000 ha/year in the study area. Fallows were found to only slowly regenerate, and there is a change in cultivation pattern to more permanent forms of cultivation. Large portions of the study area are undergoing degradation processes, leading to an additional loss of biomass. The results indicate that there is high pressure on the natural ecosystems of the study area, which will probably aggravate in the future with a high likelihood of emerging land use confl icts.