Mangroves play an important role in sustaining a healthy coastal environment, providing a natural habitat to various species, a stable shoreline and forestry products. However, the extent of mangroves developed along the tidal coast of the Mekong delta in southern Vietnam has faced and still faces the impact from both natural and anthropogenic drivers. Since the area of mangroves in the coastal Mekong delta is not well documented, this study aims to quantitatively document the evolution of the mangrove area over the past 48 years, i.e. between 1973 and 2020. Satellite Landsat images, along with a classification method comprising Iso Cluster and Maximum Likelihood algorithms, have been used for mapping land cover types including mangroves, aquaculture, soils, plants and water surfaces along the coastal districts of the Mekong delta. The study shows that remote sensing and GIS techniques can be applied to obtain mapping of the land cover, as well as detect and analyse spatial and temporal changes caused by e.g. coastal erosion or aquaculture expansion. The findings reveal that the total mangrove area of an estimated 185,800 ha in 1973 decreased significantly to 102,160 ha in 2020. Approximately 2150 ha/yr of the total mangrove loss over 1973–2020 was due to invasion by aquaculture, while roughly 430 ha/yr was lost due to coastal erosion. A slight increase in mangrove area occurred since 2010 as a result of the implementation of a series of projects to protect against coastal erosion and to restore mangroves by the Vietnamese government and international non-governmental and governmental organizations, although the success rates of mangrove restoration are relatively low. The survival of mangrove forests in the Mekong delta is related to the main pressure drivers: pollution, land use conversion, insufficient sediment sources, coastal erosion and coastal mangrove squeeze. Therefore, an integrated mangroves and shrimp farming model is one of the most appropriate approaches to achieve a beneficial balance between both aquaculture and mangroves.
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- Mekong delta
- Remote sensing