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The Mangrove Forests Change And Impacts From Tropical Cyclones In The Philippines Using Time Series Satellite Imagery

Mary Buitre, Hongsheng Zhang, Hui Lin

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The Philippines is rich in mangrove forests, containing 50% of the total mangrove species of the world. However, the vast mangrove areas of the country have declined to about half of its cover in the past century. In the 1970s, action was taken to protect the remaining mangrove forests under a government initiative, recognizing the ecological benefits mangrove forests can bring. Here, we examine two mangrove areas in the Philippines—Coron in Palawan and Balangiga-Lawaan in Eastern Samar over a 30-year period. Sets of Landsat images from 1987 to 2016 were classified and spatially analyzed using four landscape metrics. Additional analyses of the mangrove areas’ spatiotemporal dynamics were conducted. The impact of typhoon landfall on the mangrove areas was also analyzed in a qualitative manner. Spatiotemporal changes indicate that both the Coron and Balangiga-Lawaan mangrove forests, though declared as protected areas, are still suffering from mangrove area loss. Mangrove areal shrinkage and expansion can be attributed to both typhoon occurrence and management practices. Overall, our study reveals which mangrove forests need more responsive action, and provides a different perspective in understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of these mangrove areas.