The text “Construction of an eco-island: A case study of Chongming island, China” explores the applicability of the eco-island concept. According to the author, the sustainable equilibrium can be achieved only if all subsystems perform acceptably and have enough time to adapt to changing conditions. Therefore, sustainable transitions can’t occur if there is disruption of the balance among subsystems. Small islands are very sensitive to external changes and “…traditional concepts of sustainable development are not applicable to small islands [Baorong et al., 2008].’’ Thus, the main problem for small islands is “…to create policy and technical framework that will sustain natural resource capital and close ecological cycles so that waste is recycled and resources are renewed [Bass et al., 1995].”
In order to do so it is essential to understand what is an eco-island and what are the main requirements. Baorong in his article gives a definition of eco-island as a complex system that includes nature, economy and society aspects and can be defined by six main characteristics: integrated ecosystem structure and function, ecological security defense system, sustainable use of natural resources, prosperous and stable eco-economy, comfortable human habitats and widespread ecology civilization.
The development of any small island is limited by its ecological vulnerability. In order to be able to propose sustainable concept and make transitions towards eco-island possible, it is necessary to understand main vulnerability factors and disturbances of the island on different sub systems levels. For example, in case of Chongming island problems such as saltwater intrusion, invasion of exotic species, energy supply shortages, and disturbance from human activities were determined. In order to solve them, strategies such as wetland protection, control of exotic species, sustainable use of natural resources, introduction of renewable energy programs, development of eco-agriculture and ecotourism and green building based human habitat where introduced.
In comparison to Chongming island (1225km2), Texel island (178, 83 m2) is much smaller, has different climate and policies, but faces somehow similar problems and goals. These problems include the dependence on fossil fuels, rising sea level, salinization of agricultural land, extinction of native species due to human activity and climate changes [Klep, 2013]. To solve these problems in case of Texel Island, it is important to define possible drivers and threats. Study what is the impact of certain renewable energy sources on the nature and how effective they can be. What does salinization actually mean and how it is possible to grow food in salt soil (farmer Marc van Rijsselberghe is working on the production of salt tolerant crops and NIOZ institute focuses on seaweed production possibilities [Greet Vink, 2013]). What strategies can be applied to preserve and protect extinction of native species and what are the ways to minimize negative tourism impact on the nature of Texel Island.
To sum up, eco-island design in case of small islands is a complex process that involves different areas, on different levels. Keeping in mind the sensitivity of such an island to external changes and any intrusion is extremely important. In order to make sustainable transitions possible in case of Texel Island, it is important to analyze the impact of certain proposal on the nature, the economy and the society of the Island and try to reach equilibrium.
Baorong H.,Zhiyun O., Hua Z., Huizhi Z., Xiaoke W., “Construction of an eco-island: A case study of Chongming Island, China”,in: Ocean&Coastal Management 51, 2008 (575-588)
Bass S, Dalal-Clayton B. , “Small island states and sustainable development:strategic issues and experience.” In: Environmental Planning Issues No. 8. London: International Institute for Environment and Development; 1995
Klep, G., “ Tourism Island in Transition .The case of the Dutch island Texel”, Master thesis, Wageningen University,2013
Greet V., “A salty trip north, exploring cooperation in Texel,” http://www.unesco-ihe.org/news/salty-trip-north-exploring-cooperation-texel, retrieved on 14-11-2014