MOnitoring Mangrove ExteNT & Services (MOMENTS): What is controlling Tipping Points?

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: Inst of Geography and Earth Sciences


Within the tropics mangrove forests are seen as one of the most sustainable solutions to coastal climate adaptation and mitigation as a coastal wave buffer and carbon storage yet they are also threatened by accelerated sea level rise, sediment starvation and increased storm frequency and intensity. Particularly in vulnerable regions of Southeast-Asia changes in mangrove extend have implications with societal and economic relevance. There is an incomplete understanding of the factors causing tipping points resulting in mangroves switching to a fast rate of retreat or outgrowth at the border between mangroves and tidal flats. While quantification of the true economic value of the ecosystem system services (e.g., coastal protection, fisheries, carbon storage, biodiversity and wood products) provided by mangroves and their link to mangrove extent is also limited and is important for understanding the full business case for mangroves in the wider system. This project aims to understand the factors controlling such non-linear mangrove dynamics and to quantify the rate of lateral mangrove dynamics and associated change in ecosystem services in Vietnam and Indonesia. This project will further develop a satellite based remote sensing monitoring system in combination with field and mesocosm experiments, modelling to elucidate tipping points in lateral mangrove dynamics and quantifying the economic value of mangroves restoration and loss. These will provide national monitoring allowing changes to be understood and anticipated, key areas for restoration identified and the economic value and its temporal dynamics to be assessed. Furthermore, national and local governments, NGOs and coastal communities will benefit through the provision of evidence and methods for quantifying the value of mangroves and mangrove restoration.

Planned Impact

The main beneficiaries from this research will be:

* Academic communities (mangrove ecology, coastal engineering, ecosystem services modelling, remote sensing and image processing)
* Local and national governments with mangrove regions but specifically Vietnam and Indonesia
* NGO's involved in mangrove restoration and management projects.
* International NGOs including United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UN FAO), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Group on Earth Observations (GEO), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC)

They will benefit from this research through the following outputs:

1. Mangrove tipping points model, providing new understand on the drivers of lateral changes in mangrove extent.
2. Economic model for ecosystem services of mangroves
3. A near real-time satellite monitoring system for mangrove extent.
4. Monthly mapping products for mangrove extent from January 2015 to November 2019, which will be made freely available to the community at the end of the project.
5. The open source free software RSGISLib will be extended in creating the monitoring system and made available with documentation to the community.

These outputs will be publicised through:

1. Publications and Conferences
2. Project website and social media feeds
3. Annual newsletters
4. Policy Briefings
5. Shared study sites and collaboration with local NGOs
6. Open access software tools and documentation
7. End of project workshops in Indonesia and Vietnam with government and NGOs.

General Impact:
Mangrove forests are a globally important yet threatened ecosystem being significant for carbon storage, coastal resilience, biodiversity and local livelihoods. With climate change these environments are expected to be under increasing pressure due to increasing sea levels and storm frequency. Quantifying the economic value of ecosystems is difficult but this project will provide a model for the mangrove ecosystems in Vietnam and Indonesia providing the ability to make a more accurate economic case for mangrove management and restoration. Restoration projects have in many instances failed, this project will provide new and improved understand of the drivers and tipping points associated with lateral mangrove dynamics and thus improve the success of restoration projects. A near real-time monitoring system for detecting mangrove change will also be created. This will provide new information on location of changes, the rate of changes and the hotspots of change which were not previously known and therefore allowing a focusing of resources for mangrove management.
Description We have created a global mangrove extent map for 2010 and change from that baseline for 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015 and 2016. These are the first maps which have used a globally consistent methodology and provide the first consistent global statistics on mangrove change.

We are also investigating further methodology which can produce high temporal resolution change results for Vietnam and Indonesia.
Exploitation Route These maps are now considered the best available mangroves maps and are already been used by others for mangrove related studies.
Sectors Environment

Description The global mangroves maps being produced by this research are being used by the UN as the baseline statistics on mangrove extent for the reporting of SDG 6.6.1.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Other
Impact Types Policy & public services

Title Mangrove Mesocosm Experiments 
Description Mangrove mesocosms have been set up in both Indonesia and Vietnam to test mangrove propagules windows of oppotunity, for example to deal with wave action. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We are finding new information on mangroves ability to self seed and their window of oppotunities in Indonesia and Vietnam. 
Title EODataDown 
Description A tool for automatically downloading Earth Observation imagery and products. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This software enables the automated download and analysis ready processing of EO data from a range of providers. This is the key part of creating an automated EO based monitoring system. 
Title PB Slurm User Tools 
Description Tools for generating slurm job submission scripts. These are a set of scripts which have been put together to streamline data processing workflows. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Simiplifies data analysis in a HPC environment using slurm. 
Title Updated classification tools within RSGISLib 
Description The RSGISLib tools are software for spatial (raster and vector) data processing. This is a core part of the work in terms of EO data processing on MOMENTS. The image classification module within RSGISLib has been updated to make use of more up to date algorithms (e.g., deep learning neural networks, XGBoost etc.). 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2020 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Within the MOMENTS project the classification modules have been recoded to make them more flexible and to use more up to date machine learning approaches. This has resulted in better quality mangrove extent maps being generated. 
Description Presentation at RAMSAR COP 13 Side Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Results from the mangrove extent maps which have been produced globally, supported by the MOMENTS project, were presented at the RAMSAR COP 13. There was a lot of interest from users for information reporting mangrove extent at national and international scales.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018