KHEAM Project Update #03 – Establishing Baseline Information on Kingston Harbour Mangroves

Our Mangroves

The Kingston Harbour Marine Basin, approximately 50 km² (5,000 hectares) – part of a protected RAMSAR wetlands site – hosts mangrove ecosystems that provide key sustenance to Kingston Harbour marine and fish life, birds, mammals and reptiles, in addition to shoreline stabilisation for key infrastructure such as airports, shipping ports, real estate and manufacturers located in these coastal areas. The livelihoods of 3,000+ fisherfolk from eight artisanal fishing villages also depend on the Harbour’s ecosystem. These mangroves also provide vital protection against storm surges and coastal flooding through buffering of wave action and absorption of excess water. Mangroves can play an important defensive role to the effects of these climate risks but over the last quarter-century, mangrove forests have declined in Jamaica, weakening these natural shoreline defences, making Kingston more susceptible to climate change impacts.

Map Showing the 3 Target Gully systems (orange) and surrounding Mangroves(bluegreen)
(Credit: MGI)

Areas of Interest

This project will scale up the restoration and rehabilitation of mangrove forests across the Kingston Harbour in the following target areas:
• Gallows Point
• Palisadoes Roadway
• Plumb Point
• Refuge Cay
• Hunt’s Bay

Mangrove Target Areas of Rehabilitation & Restoration for Kingston Harbour and Hunt’s Bay shown in pink boxes
(Credit: MGI)

Mangrove Monitoring

The MGI-led project titled the ‘Implementation of Eco-System Adaptation Measures for the Kingston Harbour Communities’, dubbed “KHEAM”, spans across a three (3)-year period and MGI has been tasked to map, document and baseline mangrove ecosystems in the project target area of Kingston Harbour. These involve sourcing and analyzing satellite imagery of the target areas on a bi-annual basis along with monthly drone imagery to validate mangrove health status which is scheduled to commence early April 2021.

MGI has so far produced maps of the health status of the mangroves for August 2020. These maps were generated using images obtained from terrestrial satellites. These images were processed and run through our in-house algorithms to quantify and validate mangrove densities in the Harbour. In addition, drone flights have begun to capture RGB and NIR images of our mangroves to provide added data for our validation and remote sensing goals. These innovative techniques are deployed to determine areas of sparse or degrading mangroves which will assist our efforts in the rehabilitation and restoration of our mangrove ecosystems.

Baseline Map of Mangrove Health Status in & around Palisadoes in Kingston
(Credit: MGI)

It can be seen where the status of the mangrove cover is poor (red colours) in some areas but also quite good (green colours) in others. As the project progresses and certain mitigating measures are implemented, we hope to see more green areas signifying restoration of mangrove forests. A report will be generated every 6 months for the life of the project to monitor changes in mangrove coverage and health status.