Deforestation of mangroves is of global concern given their importance for carbon storage, biogeochemical cycling and the provision of other ecosystem services, but the links between rates of loss and potential drivers or risk factors are rarely evaluated. Here, we identified key drivers of mangrove loss in Kenya and compared two different approaches to predicting risk. Risk factors tested included various possible predictors of anthropogenic deforestation, related to population, suitability for land use change and accessibility. Two approaches were taken to modelling risk; a quantitative statistical approach and a qualitative categorical ranking approach. A quantitative model linking rates of loss to risk factors was constructed based on generalized least squares regression and using mangrove loss data from 1992 to 2000. Population density, soil type and proximity to roads were the most important predictors. In order to validate this model it was used to generate a map of losses of Kenyan mangroves predicted to have occurred between 2000 and 2010. The qualitative categorical model was constructed using data from the same selection of variables, with the coincidence of different risk factors in particular mangrove areas used in an additive manner to create a relative risk index which was then mapped. Quantitative predictions of loss were significantly correlated with the actual loss of mangroves between 2000 and 2010 and the categorical risk index values were also highly correlated with the quantitative predictions. Hence, in this case the relatively simple categorical modelling approach was of similar predictive value to the more complex quantitative model of mangrove deforestation. The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are discussed, and the implications for mangroves are outlined.