ABSTRACT. Mangrove is one important coastal vegetation that provides natural habitat for much marine life and serves as protection to the shoreline. Most mangrove areas in Kota Belud are located in the southern part (Kuala Abai and Ambong Bay) of this district. However the mangrove along the shoreline of Ambong Bay belongs to the Sabah state government. High demand of the mangrove area for personal use and exploitation of the resource have contributed to the destruction of mangrove ecosystem and its function as shoreline protection. The objectives of the study are to identify the change of mangrove cover and to identify the dependency level, human impact and conservation knowledge of local communities on mangroves along the shoreline of Ambong Bay, Kota Belud. The evaluation of spatial and temporal changes in mangrove areas were conducted based on Landsat TM imagery in 2001 and 2005. The data was analysed by using Erdas Imagine 9.1 version software. Field trips were conducted for ground checking and questionnaires were randomly distributed at 3 villages to assess their dependence on and conservation knowledge of mangrove. Small changes of mangrove cover can be seen from satellite images however ground checking indicated that this area was highly exploited by the local community for human settlement, conversion to paddy fields and aquaculture activities. During high tide and heavy rain, some areas are flooded which affects the human activities along the roads. Most of the respondents were unaware of the importance of the mangrove as shoreline protection, source of food and habitat for marine life. The local communities are keen to participate in any mangrove conservation activities but so far no related programme has been conducted in that area. Therefore, an awareness programme and sustainable management of the remaining mangrove should be implemented. Strong support from government and local authorities are also needed to ensure the success of the programme.
KEYWORDS. Mangrove changes, human interference, conservation knowledge, Ambong Bay