Small-island agroforestry in an era of climate change and sustainable development goals

  • Absence of a forest-agriculture divide has made small-islands fore-runners of agroforestry policies
  • Specific forms of agroforestry match the ecological and social characteristics of small islands
  • Ecologically, small islands share proximity to sea, limited freshwater reserves and low but globally unique (‘endemic’) biodiversity as characteristics
  • Social characteristics are continued relevance of diversified subsistence support, limited economies of scale in participation in global markets and strong sense of identity

Small islands exist in a wide range of absolute sizes, making counts of the total number of small islands that exist in the world uncertain. Indonesia, for example, is said to have more than 17 thousand islands, but although some of these are among the largest in the world (Borneo, Papua, Sumatra), it is not clear how many are classified as ‘small’. A relevant distinction exists between those that are permanently inhabited and those that are not, but that criterion has borderline cases as well. Being normally above sea level is a criterion for being an island, but an occasional flooding event (so that the island is not permanently above sea level) does not take it out of the island category. While there have been several initiatives

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