Enhancing Small-Medium IsLands resilience by securing the sustainability of Ecosystem Services
European islands are hotspots of biological and cultural diversity, which, compared to mainland, are more vulnerable to climate change, tourism development, uncontrolled land use changes and financial crisis. These factors have increasingly resulted in severe impacts on socio-economic and environmental services. Projected climate and land use change will impact on islands’ biodiversity but also on ecosystem services and in turn on the quality of life of island inhabitants. Even if the existing techniques can adequately predict climate-induced ecological changes of the larger islands, this is not the case for small and medium size islands where there is a need for refinement.
Although ecosystem services (ES) assessments have been carried out worldwide in different geographical areas, islands are still underrepresented. Despite the islands’s importance and vulnerability, efforts to date have focused solely on the pressures they face. Still we know little about ES supplies, flows and demands and their spatio-temporal variability, whilst integrated approaches that consider ES cross island realms (terrestrial, marine and their interface) remain scarce. Moreover, the current conceptual approaches guiding ES mapping and assessment need further refinement to account for the complex manifestations of nature and culture arising from peoples’ interaction with island spaces.
The aim of this COST action is to provide a platform for coordinated interdisciplinary research on several aspects of mapping and assessment of ES in small and medium European Islands in order to synthesize and strengthen the knowledge base for the conservation of island realms and contribute to their sustainable development.