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Research articles

ScienceAsia 42(2016): 159-170 |doi: 10.2306/scienceasia1513-1874.2016.42.159

Beach forest changes (2003–2013) in the tsunami-affected area of Phang Nga, Thailand from multi-temporal satellite data

Pasu Kongapai, Penjai Sompongchaiyakul*, Somrudee Jitpraphai, F. Gerald Plumley

ABSTRACT:     Beach forests are important ecological zones in many coastal regions. Many are under increasing anthropogenic and natural stress. Beach forest changes and their causes were examined in three tsunami-impacted sites with different land-use/cover (LULC): Ban Nam Khem (BNK, fishing village), Khao Lak (KL, tourist destination), and Thai Mueang (TM, part of a national park). Vegetation surveys, GIS, and interpretation of time series IKONOS and THEOS imagery using supervised classification (ENVI 4.7) from 2003–2013 were performed. Six beach forest tree and shrub species were found in BNK and KL, dominated by Casuarina equisetifolia, while 24 tree/shrub species, dominated by Syzygium grande, were observed at TM. After the tsunami, beach forests were severely damaged in BNK (45%), KL (40%), and TM (23%). Recovery of beach forests in 8 years varied from BNK (58%), KL (39%) with low rates in KL and high rates in TM (62%). Substantial portions of the three sites were still characterized as beach forest in 2013, though the forests now included areas that had recovered from the tsunami damage and/or altered LULC (e.g., barren land to beach forests and vice versa). Anthropogenic factors represented 40% (BNK), 56% (KL), and 5% (TM) of the changes with urbanization being a leading cause in tourist areas (KL; 24%). The study highlights the need for improved understanding of beach vegetation, tsunami impacts, and LULC to provide sustainable management of beach forests in Thailand in three sites with different anthropogenic characteristics.

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Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330 Thailand

* Corresponding author, E-mail: spenjai.@hotmail.com

Received 17 May 2015, Accepted 0 0000