Tropical mangrove forests, distributed circumtropically in the inter-tidal region between sea and land in the tropical and sub-tropical latitudes, are among the most productive and biodiverse wetlands on Earth. These forests have a major influence on global biogeochemical cycles, climate feedbacks, and hydrology. They also provide important ecological and societal goods and services including protection from surges and tsunamis. The forests, however, are declining at an alarming rate—perhaps even more rapidly than adjacent coral reefs and inland tropical forests. Their extent is believed to be less than half of what it once was and much of what remains is in degraded condition. The remaining mangrove forests are under immense pressure from clear-cutting encroachment, hydrological alterations, chemical spill, and climate change.
|Figure 1. Mangrove Forest of Sunderbans|
Our understanding of the present status of world's mangrove forests and their dynamics is inadequate. Earlier global land cover initiatives failed to map mangrove areas with sufficient details because coarse spatial resolution satellite data was used. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The World Mangrove Atlas estimates are inconsistent across space and time because they rely on a compilation of disparate and often incompatible data sources. Moreover, there have been only few studies on the rates, causes, and consequences of mangrove forest cover change.
The project is organized around three scientific research questions:
- How can we use historical and current satellite data and state-of-the-art image processing and geo-spatial modeling tools and methods to better characterize mangrove forest attributes and dynamics?
- What is the present status of mangrove forest of the world and how have the extent and characteristics of mangrove forests changed in the last 15 years?
- What are the causes and environmental and socio-economic consequences of mangrove deforestation?