Qualitative and quantitative characterization of mangrove vegetation structure and dynamics is required for assessment of coastal habitat vulnerability. Changes in mangrove forests around Douala, Cameroon, have been documented using aerial photography between 1974 and 2009. The distribution pattern of tree species was also assessed in 2009 following the point-centered quarter method (PCQM+) protocol. Pristine mangroves observed in 1974 had been disturbed markedly in 2003 and 2009. Some of the pre-existing mangroves were entirely replaced by settlements, road, and crops (maize, bean, banana, oil palm, green vegetables, and sugar cane plantations). From 1974 to 2003, 39.86 % of mangrove forests have disappeared; the net loss of 22.10 % occurred between 2003 and 2009 alone. Mangrove forest area had decreased 53.16 % around Douala over a 35-year period from 1974 to 2009 concurrent with a substantial increase of settlements (60 %), roads (233.33 %), agriculture areas (16 %), non-mangrove areas (193.33 %), and open water (152.94 %). Field survey showed that almost one third of the quadrants in the remaining mangrove forest were empty. The disrupted mangrove forest has an overall mean height, absolute density, and basal area of 19.80 m, 158 trees ha−1, and 110.44 m2 ha−1, respectively. In comparison with scientific literature on mangrove degradation, this puts the mangroves around Douala at the top of the “peri-urban mangrove degradation” list. In addition, beyond listing of mangrove plants on the Red List of Threatened Species which will seldom lead to widely distributed species being listed, we call for the creation of a Red List of Locally Threatened Ecosystems, which in contrast is likely to list mangroves as an ecosystem under critical risk of (local) extinction in many countries around the globe, in particular, peri-urban sites.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Estuaries and Coasts|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2013|