Everglades National Park UVVR
Everglades National Park in South Florida is the largest subtropical wetland ecosystem in North America, consisting of about 1.5 million acres of mangrove forests and other coastal wetlands. Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees that thrive amidst the harsh growing conditions of the coast. Like other coastal wetlands, the mangroves in the Everglades stabilize the coastline, absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide, reduce erosion and flooding and serve as a valuable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. These mangroves are essential in protecting coastal communities in southern Florida from storm surge, high winds, and other hazards associated with storms, hurricanes and coastal change.
Unfortunately, many challenges place mangrove forests under threat, such as growing populations, human development and climate change. To preserve the benefits the Everglades’ mangrove forests provide to Florida, land and resource managers are dedicated to maintaining their health. Luckily, the UVVR metric works for these unique ecosystems, too—making it easy for these managers to assess the vulnerability of the mangrove forests throughout this expansive area. The UVVR data shows large expanses of healthy, less vulnerable mangrove forests (shown in green) and areas of concern (shown in pink), such as Flamingo, located at the southernmost tip of the Florida peninsula.
The vulnerability seen in the mangroves in Flamingo indicates that these trees and shrubs are suffering mangrove dieback—a condition in which they begin to die from the tip of their leaves or roots backward, owing to disease or an unfavorable environment. Land and resource managers can use this information to determine where further assessment is necessary in order to learn what is causing this dieback and develop long-term planning strategies to prevent further decline.