Dr. Stuart Hamilton, a Salisbury University Geography and Geosciences Professor and Affiliated Researcher with the ESRGC, along with Undergraduate and Graduate Students has Completed an International Project Researching Indonesian Mangrove Forest Losses

September 21, 2015 by ESRGC

Mapping Indonesia Mangrove Forest Losses

Mapping Indonesia Mangrove Forest Losses

Salisbury University’s Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC) has just completed an international project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, to monitor mangrove loss in Indonesia. SU undergraduate and graduate students identified changes, since 2000, in the mangrove forest inventory of the archipelago in Southeast Asia. Containing just under one-third of mangroves globally, Indonesia is the most important frontier for mangrove conservation efforts. Mangroves are an effective tool in mitigating global climate change, as they contain one of the largest forest “carbon sinks” per hectare worldwide. Additionally, they help power globally significant fisheries, protect coastlines during storm events, and provide bordering communities with food security and income opportunities.

Indonesia has lost 3.11% of its mangrove forest area (Hamilton and Casey 2014) since 2000. This is substantially higher than the 1.97% global average. This is problematic as Indonesia contains approximately 28% of the world’s mangrove forest. To put this in perspective, Indonesia’s 21st Century mangrove loss is more mangrove forest than actually exists in all but 20 of the top 100 mangrove-holding nations. Earlier research indicates aquaculture, agriculture, and urbanization as reasons for mangrove losses in Indonesia pre-2000, but post-2000 the reasons for the continued mangrove loss remained opaque until this study.

Results indicate that between 2000 and 2012, Indonesia is responsible for 45% of global mangrove losses and aquaculture is responsible for approximately 70.86% +- 9.65% of these mangrove losses. Therefore, by tackling mangrove to shrimp conversion in Indonesia the environmental community would be addressing a little under one-third of global mangrove losses. Indeed, by focusing resources still further on specific estuaries in Kalimantan this would account for the majority of Indonesian mangrove losses and mangrove forest to aquaculture conversion.

Projects such as this not only help undergraduate and graduate students become involved in the process of research, but actually contribute real meaningful findings to institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that are at the forefront of research into the driving mechanisms behind global warming. As part SU’s commitment to undergraduate research, this type of project allows students to apply cross-curricular components of their SU education to address real-world environmental problems.

Read the full results from this study at http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.1825.5529