The MangroveWatch APPROACH using S-VAM
MangroveWatch provides data on the extent, structure and condition of shoreline and tidal wetland habitats in estuaries and along protected coastlines. The generation of this information focuses on the annual collection of geo-tagged video imagery of shoreline habitats using the Shoreline Video Assessment Method (S-VAM) (Mackenzie et al 2016 and Figure 3).
MangroveWatch S-VAM Data Collection is a 5-step process;
1. Training and Information.MangroveWatch participants are provided with access to a MangroveWatch kit, trained in data collection methods and provided with information on the importance of mangroves, local threats and issues.
2. Data Collection. MangroveWatchers collect geo-tagged video of local shorelines providing local insights and local knowledge over video voice recording
3. Data Transfer. Video and GPS data is transferred to MangroveWatch science team at James Cook University
4. Data assessment by mangrove scientists. MangroveWatch video data is analysed by scientists to determine extent, structure and condition of shoreline habitats.
5. Data feedback to coastal stakeholders. Data is presented back to the community in report form.
Figure 2. The MangroveWatch approach
Advantages of the MangroveWatch S-VAM Approach
The Shoreline Video Assessment Method (S-VAM) used for MangroveWatch is the perfect tool for indigenous engagement and citizen science to assess shoreline habitats. The advantages of S-VAM are that it is;
Easy to do – only limited technological skills are required to operate a video camera, handheld GPS and digital still camera
Scientifically valid – No objective decision-making is required by community participants as all imagery is assessed remotely by mangrove experts. Video data enables data quality control. The GPS track ensures repeatability. Video image assessment is backed up by groundtruthing and accuracy assessments
Rapid – Video imagery can be collected quickly allowing large areas to be assessed with minimal time commitment from MangroveWatch community participants. On average, 10km of shoreline only requires 1 hour of filming.
A permanent visual record – video imagery data provides a permanent visual record from which to assess future change and overcomes shifting baseline of environmental perception. Our intention in the near future is to make all video image data available via the MangroveWatch website.
A whole of system assessment – A continuous collection of geo-tagged shoreline images allows for the quantification of data across entire estuaries, rather than from a collection of random points along the bank or within the forest. This allows shoreline habitat features and process to be seen within the context of the whole system that better informs estuary and coastal management.
Partnering scientists with local people greatly improves our understanding of shoreline habitats and is one of the major advantages of the MangroveWatch approach.
Working with local people and traditional owners enables;
Local knowledge input – Local people provide locally relevant information that enhances scientific assessment and provides local context to shoreline habitat assessment. Local observations of change, historical information and knowledge of local values are highly valuable insights.
Large spatial coverage – there are very few mangrove scientists and many keen local mangrove enthusiasts. Working with local people means that more information can be gathered from more places to improve our understanding of shoreline habitats.
Community education, empowerment and environmental stewardship– When local communities are informed they are empowered. By working with scientists, local people can gain more information on the value of their local mangroves and the issues that affect them, empowering them to take action at the local scale.
Example RESULTS – Mooloolah River, Queensland AUSTRALIA