To improve scientific understanding of the extent and distribution of mangrove forests of the world the status and distribution of global mangroves were mapped using recently available Global Land Survey (GLS) data and the Landsat archive.The project interpreted approximately 1000 Landsat scenes using hybrid supervised and unsupervised digital image classification techniques. Results were validated using existing GIS data and the published literature to map ‘true mangroves’. The total area of mangroves in the year 2000 was 137,760 km2 in 118 countries and territories in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Approximately 75% of world's mangroves are found in just 15 countries, and only 6.9% are protected under the existing protected areas network (IUCN I-IV). Our study confirms earlier findings that the biogeographic distribution of mangroves is generally confined to the tropical and subtropical regions and the largest percentage of mangroves is found between 5° N and 5° S latitude. The remaining area of mangrove forest in the world is less than previously thought; the estimate provided in this study is 12.3% smaller than the most recent estimate by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. This data set presents the most comprehensive, globally consistent and highest resolution (30 m) global mangrove database ever created

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