The Open University of Cyprus leads the new COST Action 21158 - Enhancing Small-Medium IsLands resilience by securing the sustainability of Ecosystem Services (SMILES), which brings together scientists, researchers and academics from 24 countries. Chair of the Action, which has secured funding through a very competitive call, is Professor Ioannis Vogiatzakis, Academic Coordinator of the MSc Programme “Environmental Conservation and Management”, Coordinator of the OUC Terrestrial Ecosystems Management Lab.
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. The aim of the SMILES 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 conservation of island realms and contribute to their sustainable development.
The network of collaborators is gender-balanced, and represents 31 entities from 24 different countries. The COST Action aims to contribute to most of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and most importantly to SDGs 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life in Water) and 15 (Life on Land).