The Bare Necessities: Forecasting Myanmar’s Mangrove Extent and Biomass

EarthzineDEVELOP Fall 2013 VPS, Original

Team Location: Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, Maryland

Map showing the biomass associated with the Tanintharyi mangrove region in Myanmar. A higher biomass indicates a healthy, vigorous forest. Image Credit: Myanmar Ecological Forecasting Team, NASA DEVELOP National Program.

Map showing the biomass associated with the Tanintharyi mangrove region in Myanmar. A higher biomass indicates a healthy, vigorous forest. Image Credit: Myanmar Ecological Forecasting Team, NASA DEVELOP National Program.

Authors:
Sam Weber, Project Lead (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Louis Keddell (University of Maryland)
Mohammed Kemal (University of Maryland)
Mentors/Advisers:
Fritz Policelli (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
Temilola Fatoyinbo, Ph.D. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
Past/Other Contributors:
DEVELOP Myanmar Ecological Forecasting team, LaRC Summer 2013
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (Dr. Peter Leimgruber and Ellen Aiken)
Abstract
Mangroves supply many essential environmental amenities, such as soil erosion protection, water filtration and shoreline protection from harmful waves, floods, storms and winds. The Mangroves in Myanmar provide citizens with a food source and offer firewood, charcoal and construction materials. The depletion of mangroves is threatening more than the biodiversity, however. Myanmar’s fiscal livelihood is also in harm’s way. Mangroves are valued at $100,000 to $277,000 (USD) per square kilometer and, if managed in a sustainable fashion, can infuse constant income to the emerging Myanmarese economy. This study analyzed three coastline regions — the Ayeyarwady Delta, Rakhine and Tanintharyi — and mapped the spatial extent of mangrove forest during the pre-spring dry season in 2000 and 2013. The classifications were derived from Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) imagery, as well as Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) digital elevation model information. This data was mosaicked, masked and classified in ENvironment for Visualizing Images (ENVI), then run through ArcGIS to perform raster calculations and create final imagery. Forest degradation information collected from 2000 and 2013 was later used to forecast the density and health of Mangroves in the year 2030. These results were presented to project partners at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia. The SCBI partners formally disseminated the results to the Myanmar Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Forestry for policymakers and forest managers to utilize and determine proper policy changes in order to enhance protection of the Myanmar mangrove ecosystems while sustaining a healthy economy.

Return to the Fall 2013 VPS page.