The impact of rapid urban expansion on coastal mangroves: a case study in Guangdong Province, China

  • Bin Ai
  • Chunlei MaEmail author
  • Jun Zhao
  • Rui Zhang
Research Article


Mangroves serve many important ecological functions and consequently represent a dominant coastal ecosystem. However, coastal regions are very susceptible to ecological damage due to their high population density, urban expansion being one of the most important influencing factors. Accordingly, it is vital to ascertain how urban expansion endangers mangrove ecosystems. This study used the decision-tree classification method based on classification and regression tree (CART) algorithm to extract areas of mangrove and built-up land from Landsat images. A correlation analysis was performed between the change in the area of mangroves and the change in the area of built-up land at the cell scale. This study aimed to reveal the magnitude of the influence of urban expansion on mangrove forests in different periods and in different regions, and to identify the places that are seriously affected by urban expansion. The results demonstrate that this approach can be used to quantitatively analyze the impact of urban expansion on mangrove forests, and show that larger areas of mangrove were affected by urban expansion in the past 30 years. The effects of urban expansion were stronger over time, with approximately 12% of cells containing mangroves showing a negative correlation between the increase in the area of built-up land and the change in the area of mangrove forests to different degrees from 2005 to 2015. The same quantitative analysis was also carried out in three subregions of Guangdong Province, namely western Guangdong Province, the Pearl River Delta, and eastern Guangdong Province. It was found that the situations in these three regions were very different due to discrepancies in the distribution of mangroves, the rate of urban expansion, and the awareness of the local government regarding environmental protection. These results can assist in the management of coastal cities and the protection of mangrove ecosystems.


mangrove urban expansion ecological stress coastal Guangdong 


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The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and comments. This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41301418), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (Grant No. 2014A030313141), and the Science and Technology Plan Project of Guangzhou City (Grant No. 201607020041).


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Marine SciencesSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Marine Resources and Coastal EngineeringGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai)ZhuhaiChina

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