The research will identify, using forest remote sensing and ground-truthing, degradation of mangrove ecosystems resulting from petrochemical pollution in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Hydrocarbon exploitation in the region results to adverse environmental pollution due to poor practices with ecological, biodiversity decline and health implications.
The methodology of the project will involve identification of sites clearly affected by pollution; those unaffected and those potentially affected. There will be an examination of different impacts at different forest densities associated with mangrove forests, in effect investigating impacts based on forest structure. The fieldwork will involve soil and vegetation sampling of affected sites and analysis including bulk density, elemental and molecular pollutant analysis, granulometry, canopy structure, and tree species identification.
Using remote sensing and ground validation, the susceptibility of mangrove populations will be associated directly/indirectly with reduced Leaf Area Index (LAI), Normalised Differential of Vegetation Index (NDVI), Land Surface Temperature (LST), and multi-temporal forest change detection and trend analysis. Several remote sensing resources/platforms will be utilised including Nigeria Sat-X, ICESat, MODIS, and Landsat to examine if variations in vegetation indices as a response to pollution can be identified through incorporating time series analysis and if further environmental variations can be identified through similar and additional statistical analyses. The methodology developed for this study can be used in further research on the estimated 9.6 million+ hectares of the Nigerian forest currently experiencing degradation and deforestation at 3.7% (UNREDD+ Nigeria, 2014).
Mangrove ecosystem degradation
Retrieving soil cores from the mangrove forest of the Niger Delta, Nigeria