A framework is proposed for utilizing remote sensing and ground-truthing field data to map benthic habitats in the State of Qatar, with potential application across the Arabian Gulf. Ideally the methodology can be applied to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of mapping the nearshore environment to identify sensitive habitats, monitor for change, and assist in management decisions. The framework is applied to a case study for northeastern Qatar with a key focus on identifying high sensitivity coral habitat. The study helps confirm the presence of known coral and provides detail on a region in the area of interest where corals have not been previously mapped. Challenges for the remote sensing methodology associated with natural heterogeneity of the physical and biological environment are addressed. Recommendations on the application of this approach to coastal environmental risk assessment and management planning are discussed as well as future opportunities for improvement of the framework.
Keywords: Coral; Habitat mapping; Qatar; Remote sensing.
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