DOI: 10.1002/aqc.4058 ISSN: 1052-7613

Assessing the conservation status of mangroves in Rakhine, Myanmar

Calvin K. F. Lee, Emily Nicholson, Clare Duncan, Hedley S. Grantham, David A. Keith, Rob Tizard, Nicholas J. Murray
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science


Ecosystem degradation is a key challenge that human society faces, as ecosystems provide services that are tied to human well‐being. Particularly, mangrove ecosystems provide important services to communities but are suffering heavy degradation, loss and potential collapse due to anthropogenic activities. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems is a transparent and consistent framework for assessing ecosystems' risk of collapse and is increasingly used to inform legislation and ecosystem management globally.

Satellite data have become increasingly common in environmental monitoring due to their extensive spatial and temporal coverage. Here, recent advances in analyses using satellite‐derived data were implemented to reassess the conservation status of the ‘Rakhine mangrove forest on mud’, an important intertidal ecosystem in Myanmar, extending a previous national Red List assessment that assessed the ecosystem as Critically Endangered.

By incorporating additional data sources and analyses, the extended assessment produced more robust results and reduced the uncertainty in the previous assessment. Overall, the ecosystem was assessed as Critically Endangered (range: Vulnerable to Critically Endangered) as a result of historical mangrove extent loss. Recent losses and biotic disruptions were also observed, which would have led to the ecosystem being assessed as Vulnerable.

While the final outcome of the Red List assessment remained at Critically Endangered due to the historical state of the mangroves pre‐dating the temporal coverage from satellite data, the uncertainty of the ecosystem's status was reduced, and the reassessment highlighted the recent areal changes and mangrove degradation that has occurred.

The importance of conducting reassessments when new data become available is discussed, and a template for future mangrove Red List assessments that use satellite data as their primary source of information to improve the robustness of their results is presented.

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