Climate Change Impacts on Small Island States: Ecosystem Services Risks and Opportunities

  • Johannes FörsterEmail author
  • Elizabeth Mcleod
  • Mae M. Bruton-Adams
  • Heidi Wittmer


This chapter highlights how ecosystem-based adaptation—informed conservation and management practices that help people adapt to climate change—can enhance the resilience of island communities and reduce ecosystem service risks. On islands, terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems are highly interconnected and provide important ecosystem services to local communities. However, ecosystems are also severely impacted by climate change, natural climate patterns, and human action. Using a ridge-to-reef approach allows accounting for ecosystem connectivity in adaptation planning and policies. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) are described as a policy option for securing the ecosystem services of island watersheds. Strategies of ecosystem-based adaptation are not only an option for Small Island States, but also for many situations in developed or developing countries.


Ecosystem service risk Climate change Ecosystem-based adaptation Small island states 



The Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research—UFZ partner with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the project “Building the Resilience of Communities and their Ecosystems to the Impacts of Climate Change in Micronesia and Melanesia,” financed by the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).


  1. 1.
    United Nations. International year of small island developing states 2014. United Nations, 2014. Accessed 11 Aug 2016.
  2. 2.
    Nurse LA, McLean RF, Agard J, Briguglio LP, Duvat-Magnan V, Pelesikoti N, et al. Small islands. In: Barros VR, Field CB, editors. Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part B: regional aspects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2014. p. 1613–54.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Burke L, Reytar K, Spalding M, Perry A. Reefs at risk revisited. Washington DC: World Resources Institute; 2011.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Zaneveld JR, Burkepile DE, Shantz AA, Pritchard CE, McMinds R, Payet JP, et al. Overfishing and nutrient pollution interact with temperature to disrupt coral reefs down to microbial scales. Nat Commun. 2016;7:11833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cressey D. Coral crisis: great barrier reef bleaching is “the worst we’ve ever seen”. Nature. 2016;
  6. 6.
    Wilkinson C. Status of coral reefs of the world: 2008. Townsville, Australia: Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and Reef and Rainforest Research Centre; 2008.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Anthony KRN, Maynard JA, Diaz-Pulido G, Mumby PJ, Marshall PA, Cao L, et al. Ocean acidification and warming will lower coral reef resilience. Glob Change Biol. 2011;17:1798–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Polidoro BA, Carpenter KE, Collins L, Duke NC, Ellison AM, Ellison JC, et al. The loss of species: mangrove extinction risk and geographic areas of global concern. PLoS One. 2010;5:e10095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Colls A, Ash N, Ikkala N. Ecosystem-based Adaptation: a natural response to climate change. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN; 2009.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mumby PJ, Edwards AJ, Ernesto Arias-González J, Lindeman KC, Blackwell PG, Gall A, et al. Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean. Nature. 2004;427:533–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wunder S, Engel S, Pagiola S. Taking stock: A comparative analysis of payments for environmental services programs in developed and developing countries. Ecol Econ. 2008;65:834–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Van Noordwijk M, Leimona B. Principles for fairness and efficiency in enhancing environmental services in Asia: payments, compensation, or co-investment? Ecol Soc. 2010;15(4):17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Leimona B, van Noordwijk M, de Groot R, Leemans R. Fairly efficient, efficiently fair: Lessons from designing and testing payment schemes for ecosystem services in Asia. Ecosyst Serv. 2015;12:16–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Garcia JG. Feasibility for payments for ecosystem services in lorengau watershed. Manus: Papua New Guinea; 2011.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hejnowicz AP, Raffaelli DG, Rudd MA, White PCL. Evaluating the outcomes of payments for ecosystem services programmes using a capital asset framework. Ecosyst Serv. 2014;9:83–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Redford KH, Adams WM. Payment for ecosystem services and the challenge of saving nature. Conserv Biol. 2009;23:785–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Engel S, Pagiola S, Wunder S. Designing payments for environmental services in theory and practice: an overview of the issues. Ecol Econ. 2008;65:663–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pascual U, Muradian R, Rodríguez LC, Duraiappah A. Exploring the links between equity and efficiency in payments for environmental services: a conceptual approach. Ecol Econ. 2010;69:1237–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Förster
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth Mcleod
    • 2
  • Mae M. Bruton-Adams
    • 3
  • Heidi Wittmer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental PoliticsHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research–UFZLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.The Nature ConservancyAustinUSA
  3. 3.The Nature ConservancyPohnpeiMicronesia

Personalised recommendations