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The thin(ning) green line? Investigating changes in Kenya's seagrass coverage

Harcourt, William D.; Briers, Robert A.; Huxham, Mark


William D. Harcourt


Knowledge of seagrass distribution is limited to a few well-studied sites and poor where resourcesare scant (e.g. Africa), hence global estimates of seagrass carbon storage are inaccurate. Here, we analysed freely available Sentinel-2 and Landsat imagery to quantify contemporary coverage and change in seagrass between 1986 and 2016 on Kenya’s coast. Using field surveys and independent estimates of historical seagrass, we estimate total cover of Kenya’s seagrass to be 317.1 ± 27.2 km226 , following losses of 0.85% yr-1 since 1986. Losses increased from 0.29% yr-1 in 2000 to 1.59% yr-1 in 2016, releasing up to 2.17 Tg carbon since 1986. Anecdotal evidence suggests fishing pressure is an important cause of loss and is likely to intensify in the near future. If these results are representative for Africa, global estimates of seagrass extent and loss need reconsidering.


Harcourt, W. D., Briers, R. A., & Huxham, M. (2018). The thin(ning) green line? Investigating changes in Kenya's seagrass coverage. Biology Letters, 14(11), Article 20180227.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 28, 2018
Publication Date 2018-11
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 3, 2018
Journal Biology Letters
Print ISSN 1744-9561
Publisher Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 11
Article Number 20180227
Keywords Seagrass, mapping, Kenya, blue carbon,
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