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Goal: Apply Knowledge Globally Southern Research Station FIA Works with Mexico, NASA, and the Florida Forest Service to Improve Mangrove Measurements

Mangrove trees

Florida Forest Service field crew leader Chris McGarvey leading the way to a plot in dense red mangroves. Photo by Jarek Nowak, Florida Forest Service.


Mangrove area estimates differ widely among sources due to variations in methods, measurements, accessibility, and definitions. FIA is collaboratively investigating alternatives for strengthening accessibility to and estimation of the mangrove resource.


Measuring mangroves, particularly red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L.), can be very difficult due to the multi-stemmed growth habit of the species, rooting patterns, and accessibility issues. Past FIA measurements have severely underestimated mangrove area compared with remotely-sensed estimates. However, field sampling is beneficial for collecting additional information regarding biomass, species composition changes, volume, and other attributes that are possible to estimate remotely but difficult to verify without ground-truthing. In May 2016 the North American Forest Commission Inventory and Monitoring Working Group (IMWG) met in St. Petersburg, Florida to discuss the topic of mangrove system measurement. Participants visited a demo FIA plot located in mangroves and shared information with Mexican colleagues, who also demonstrated how Mexico measures red mangroves. Following the meeting, researchers contacted Bruce Cook, NASA, who operates G-LiHT lidar based technology globally and has experience working with FIA to measure remote sites in Alaska. A sampling protocol was developed to compare two different plot designs and two different D.B.H. measurement rules and to test G-LiHT protocols over red mangrove systems within the Everglades National Park. With the help of the National Park Service, field cruisers are collecting data to be used in the methods comparison. The study aims to find ways to increase the efficiency of field measurements and to incorporate remote sensing methodology into hard-to-measure mangrove systems for FIA estimation.

Principal Investigators
Mark Brown, Forester
Sonja Oswalt, Forest Resource Analyst
4801 - Forest Inventory and Analysis
Strategic Program Area
Inventory and Monitoring
External Partners
Florida Forest Service
Bruce Cook, NASA