MangroveWatch assessment of shoreline mangroves in Vanuatu
This report documents findings from the program of works for 2012-2013 directed by Dr Norm Duke with the MESCAL Vanuatu Technical Working Group involving their training, support and consultation, prescription of methodology and approach, as well as the compilation and assessment of data received.
2) This report details data generated from recent 2012 shoreline video assessment MangroveWatch surveys undertaken by MESCAL Vanuatu Technical Working Group and associates. The data in this report has been analysed and compiled by the MangroveWatch science hub at the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.
3) The information in this report is designed to serve as a baseline for future mangrove monitoring along targeted coastlines, enabling future fringing mangrove health to be monitored effectively and providing a means to compare mangroves along the target shoreline with nearby areas in Vanuatu and elsewhere in the Pacific.
4) The information presented here is designed to assist natural resource managers to identify and target specific issues that threaten mangroves in Crab Bay and Eratap, Vanuatu.
5) A key outcome of these initial MangroveWatch surveys is a long-term visual baseline of mangrove extent, structure and condition along 14 km of Crab Bay and Eratap Bay shorelines that will provide an accurate means of assessing future change in years to come.
6) The results of this survey demonstrate the effectiveness of engaging local staff and community members to assess mangrove shoreline habitats using the MangroveWatch shoreline video assessment method (SVAM) with assistance from external experts to identify local threats and monitor habitat condition.
7) The results of this survey show the fringing mangroves of Crab Bay, Malekula to be in relatively good condition, with high ecosystem service value. Comparatively, fringing mangroves of Eratap Lagoon, Efate, are damaged by coastal development and are in poorer condition, with ecosystem service values compromised by cutting and clearing of some mangrove areas and habitat fragmentation. The very high condition and natural recovery documented in Crab Bay indicate these mangroves have high climate change adaptation and resilience capacity. Mangroves of Eratap exhibit very low rates of natural recovery from disturbances, making them particularly susceptible to climate change impacts.
8) Information regarding the extent to which fragmentation and disturbance of fringing mangroves can occur without greatly reducing habitat function and integrity is required for sustainable management. Broad scale assessments of mangrove shorelines combined with long-term monitoring will provide this information. The MESCAL project provides a first step towards achieving this goal.
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