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Guidelines for community-focused ecological monitoring of mangrove habitats in estuaries

Report: TR05/12
Author: A Schwarz (NIWA), B Burns (Landcare Research), A C Alfaro (Auckland University of Technology)

Abstract

This document (mangrove guidelines) was prepared after the Mangrove Steering Group identified a need to develop standard methods for monitoring changes in estuaries, with emphasis on mangrove habitats. In 2003, Environment Waikato initiated a workshop comprised of research providers on the Mangrove Steering Group and a representative from Environment Bay of Plenty, Environment Waikato, Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and Department of Conservation. Each of the regulatory organisations contributed to the process resulting in the first draft of this document in 2003.

In the following year NIWA, as part of NIWA's FRST funded Aquatic Contaminants Programme, and ARC carried out trial sampling methods with community groups. Subsequent modifications of these sampling methods based on the trials, literature reviews and other on-going projects have been incorporated in this document.

The objective of the mangrove guidelines is to provide some guidance on techniques that individuals, or groups with an interest in mangroves can employ to investigate environmental questions within their local estuaries. The document suggests scientifically sound methods that are specific to monitoring physical and biological changes in mangrove habitats. Methods include monitoring how vegetation boundaries change over time, the use of mangroves by fauna and sediment characteristics. The guidelines are not intended to be all-encompassing, but are instead targeted to identified environmental questions within mangrove habitats.

The methods are designed to address two questions identified by the Mangrove Steering Group: what is the distribution and character of mangroves and adjacent habitats and how do these change over time; what are the special considerations for monitoring the effects of mangrove clearance?

The document describes and provides methodological detail for a recommended minimum set of techniques to address each of these questions. Additional techniques are recommended for intermediate and detailed monitoring options which will depend on the site, the goals of the monitoring programme and the resources available. An example of how the recommended minimum suite of monitoring observations have been adopted by an estuary monitoring group is available in a companion publication to this document: Estuary monitoring by communities: mangrove habitats, a case study (NIWA and Waikaraka Estuary Managers).

Guidelines for community-focused ecological monitoring of mangrove habitats in estuaries
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Table of Contents

Executive Summary i
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Scope of the document 2
2 Scope of the document 3
3 Methods 4
3.1 Addressing Question 1. What is the distribution and character of mangroves and adjacent habitats and how do these change over time? 4
3.1.1 Choosing sites 4
3.1.2 Frequency of sampling 5
3.1.3 Recommended minimum level 5
3.1.4 Equipment list for recommended minimum level 9
3.1.5 Intermediate level 11
3.1.6 Detailed level 13
3.2 Addressing Question 2. What are the special considerations for monitoring the effects of mangrove clearance? 14
3.2.1 Choosing sites 15
3.2.2 Frequency of sampling 15
3.2.3 Recommended minimum level 16
3.2.4 Intermediate level 17
3.2.5 Detailed level 17
4 What to do with all this information? 17
5 A summary flow chart of actions 18