The assessment of mangrove biomass and carbon in West Africa: a spatially explicit analytical framework

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Mangrove forests are highly productive and have large carbon sinks while also providing numerous goods and ecosystem services. However, effective management and conservation of the mangrove forests are often dependent on spatially explicit assessments of the resource. Given the remote and highly dispersed nature of mangroves, estimation of biomass and carbon in mangroves through routine field-based inventories represents a challenging task which is impractical for large-scale planning and assessment. Alternative approaches based on geospatial technologies are needed to support this estimation in large areas. However, spatial data processing and analysis approaches used in this estimation of mangrove biomass and carbon have not been adequately investigated. In this study, we present a spatially explicit analytical framework that integrate remotely sensed data and spatial analyses approaches to support the estimation of mangrove biomass and carbon stock and their spatial patterns in West Africa. Forest canopy height derived from SRTM and ICESat/GLAS data was used to estimate mangrove biomass and carbon in nine West African countries. We developed a geospatial software toolkit that implemented the proposed framework. The spatial analysis framework and software toolkit provide solid support for the estimation and relative comparisons of mangrove-related metrics. While the mean canopy height of mangroves in our study area is 10.2 m, the total biomass and carbon were estimated as 272.56 and 136.28 Tg. Nigeria has the highest total mangrove biomass and carbon in the nine countries, but Cameroon is the country with the largest mean biomass and carbon density. The resulting spatially explicit distributions of mangrove biomass and carbon hold great potential in guiding the strategic planning of large-scale field-based assessment of mangrove forests. This study demonstrates the utility of online geospatial data and spatial analysis as a feasible solution for estimating the distribution of mangrove biomass and carbon at larger or smaller scales.

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