Chen, Q.; Lin, Y.; Zhang, Y.; Wang, C., and Cai, A., 2022. Evaluation framework for determining the developmental suitability and sustainability of uninhabited islands. Journal of Coastal Research, 38(4), 816–827. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

The sustainable development of an island ecosystem should be guided by accurately assessing its suitability for development. However, the possibility of sustainable development of a given uninhabited island has not yet been explored, and the corresponding development intensity remains unclear. In this study, an indicator evaluation framework was developed based on ecological and economic value to evaluate the developmental suitability of uninhabited islands. The ecological value of an island was determined based on the ecosystem conditions, environmental quality, natural and cultural heritage, and potential marine disasters. The economic value was calculated using spatial, biological, and tourism factors; energy and mineral resources; and local development conditions. Accordingly, the developmental suitability levels of islands were categorized into four levels on a 10-point score as high, moderate, low, and unsuitable depending on a mutually exclusive ecology–economy matrix. The application of this matrix in Xiamen Crocodile Island revealed a comprehensive ecological protection indicator score of 5.953 and a comprehensive economic feasibility indicator score of 6.346. The developmental suitability of this island was therefore moderate, and from the comparison of individual scores, eco-tourism should be regarded as the primary development mode. Each level of developmental suitability requires unique suitability strategies to ensure ecosystem preservation. For high suitability, the island resources could be reasonably utilized based on scientific demonstration; for moderate suitability, the carrying capacity of the island should be evaluated and an ecological compensation scheme should be established; for low suitability, the natural attributes and sustainability of the island should be maintained; for unsuitable level, external interference should be prevented to avoid ecosystem fragility. This framework is an effective tool for evaluating the sustainability of uninhabited island ecosystems. This study potentially facilitates the protection and development of Crocodile Island and assists in determining the developmental suitability of other uninhabited islands, besides fostering scientific decision-making.

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