Satellite Data Reveal Concerns Regarding Mangrove Restoration Efforts in Southern ChinaChao Fan, Xiyong Hou, Yuxin Zhang, Dong Li
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences
Mangrove restoration projects are often evaluated based on the increase in mangrove forest (MF) area, but the reliability of this indicator as a measure of successful restoration is questionable. Considering both numerical and quality dimensions, this study assessed mangrove restoration efforts in the Leizhou Peninsula and Beibu Gulf (LP-BG) in China. The hypothesis was that due to the limited social capital investment in mangrove restoration, there exist hierarchical differences in the urgency of mangrove restoration. Time-series Landsat imagery from the Google Earth Engine platform was used to analyze the MF distribution from 2000 to 2020. A resilience indicator, incorporating resistance and adaptive capacity, was constructed to assess MF quality within identified mangrove boundaries. The results revealed an increase in MF area from 6655.87 ha in 2000 to 14,607.93 ha in 2020. However, the majority (79.6%) of MF patches exhibited low resilience (values < 3), with only a minority (51 patches) demonstrating high resilience. Interestingly, MFs within the mangrove reserve displayed higher resilience, but these areas did not exhibit a significant spatial expansion of MFs. These findings highlight the limitation of relying solely on the net growth in the MF area as an indicator of successful restoration. Instead, an ecologically optimal solution is recommended, focusing on expanding conservation boundaries to include remnant MFs outside protected areas, rather than creating new planting areas. This study provides an assessment framework to evaluate the efficiency of mangrove restoration efforts and offers insights for local decision makers to guide future restoration endeavors.