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Global Coastal Change

The Quarterly Review of Biology (Impact Factor: 7.5). 03/2008; 83(1):136-137. DOI: 10.1086/586995
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    ABSTRACT: Caroni Swamp Ramsar Site, the largest mangrove dominated wetland in Trinidad and Tobago, continues to be impacted by human activities. This study examines changes in land cover and land use from 1942 to 2007 using remote sensing technology, geographic information systems (GIS) and extensive field surveys. Land cover maps were produced for 1942, 1957, 1986, 1994, 2003 and 2007 from aerial photos and high resolution satellite imagery. Caroni Swamp’s hydrology was altered in the 1920’s to facilitate rice cultivation. This resulted in the formation of large tracts of freshwater marsh. From 1942 to 1957, freshwater marsh and agriculture lands increased, but after this period there was a steady decline in both, as freshwater was diverted away from the wetland and salt water intruded further inland. Although mangrove forest was cleared for built development, its coverage has consistently increased in the Swamp from 1957, with the exception of 2003 when there was a decrease by less than 100 ha. This is in contrast to most areas in the tropics where mangrove coverage continue to decline. In this case, the mangrove trees are out-competing/shading marsh vegetation, causing shift in the wetland communities. In the Caroni Ramsar Site, the natural wetland communities generally increased from 1942 to 2003, but declined in 2007, as built development more than doubled. The paper provides spatial coverage, and quantifies land cover from 1942 to 2007. It also identifies reasons for the changes in land cover and uses, and the implications for management.
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