Scientists have found that human-driven pressures such as demand for more land is pushing a majority of our islands to an extent where it no longer can naturally adjust to climate change risks. In 2019, there were reclamation projects of 17 islands and about 50 harbor developments.
According to findings published on Nature, researchers Virginie and Alexandre concluded that “20.1% of inhabited and exploited islands (e.g. resorts, airport islands) have already reached a tipping point and that 46.2% may reach it over the coming decade(s).” The researchers studied 608 Maldivian islands from 23 atolls, comparing high-resolution satellite images between 2006 and 2016. They researched the destructions on the island country’s coral reefs due to land reclamation, harbor development and reef dredging.
In order to protect Maldives from climate change risks such as rising sea level, the level of human disturbance need to be assessed. The researchers stated that islands which still have natural capacity to adjust should make it a priority to preserve and sustain the natural protection services and other islands need hard-engineered measures and adequately designed and calibrated protections without further delay.