Extent and health of mangroves in Lac Bay Bonaire using satellite data

Remote sensing is an important tool for monitoring the environment. In this report we investigate the use of satellite images from two different satellites for monitoring the extent and health of the mangrove forests in Lac Bay, Bonaire. The different satellite bands were used to produce the Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI), the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), the Atmospherically Resistant Vegetation Index (ARVI), and the Red Edge index. The above indices, the results from a Principal Components Analysis (PCA), an unsupervised, and supervised classification were used to classify extent and health of the mangroves.

The image from the RapidEye satellite with a spatial resolution of 5 meters in multispectral bands, covering the whole island produced vegetation indexes that generally were able to distinguish broader classes such as mangroves, water, and land. The high resolution image from the WorldView-2 satellite covering only Lac Bay with a spatial resolution of 2 meters in multispectral and 0,5 meters in panchromatic was able to distinguish between different species of mangrove and also appeared to be able to detect differences in health of the different species. Both satellite images can be used to estimate the extent of the mangroves, but only WorldView2 has a resolution that enables the detection of unhealthy (i.e. lower values for certain indices mostly related to chlorophyll content) areas with sufficient confidence. Apart from the technical characteristics, the RapidEye image is cheaper and covers the whole island of Bonaire, providing a full synoptic view.

We conclude that:

  1. Satellite images are a well suitable for monitoring areal extent, species composition, and health of mangrove areas in Lac Bay, Bonaire.
  2. RapidEye satellite images are usable for broad classification, whereas Worldview2 gives better resolution to also include species differences and health assessments. 

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