New global map of mangroves

From NASA. Mangroves are among the most biologically important ecosystems on the planet, and a common feature of tropical and sub-tropical coastlines. But ground-based evidence suggests these vital coastal forests have been strained in many regions because of harvesting for food, fuel, and medicine. Now, scientists have used satellite images to compile the most comprehensive map of mangroves worldwide, which should help in future efforts in monitoring and conservation. New global maps of mangroves have been developed.

The effort to create the maps was led by Chandra Giri of the U.S. Geological Survey and published recently in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. Using digital image classification techniques, the research team compiled and analyzed more than 1,000 scenes from the Landsat series of satellites.

Giri and colleagues found 12.3 percent less area covered by mangroves than previously estimated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The current extent of mangroves is probably half of what once existed. Only 6.9 percent of mangrove forests are protected by law.

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