* Pacific states trying to protect crops, coasts
* Cyclones seen as bigger threat for now than rising seas
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
BONN, Germany, June 4 (Reuters) - Pacific islands are trying low-cost ways to protect crops and coasts from cyclones that are a bigger threat -- for now -- than rising sea levels that could wipe low-lying nations off the map.
Pacific island delegates at June 1-12 talks in Bonn working on a new U.N. climate treaty say that shifting storm patterns linked to global warming are stoking more "king tides" which bring salt water onto farmland and into fresh water supplies.
"Our immediate concern is cyclones," said Ian Fry, representing Tuvalu which is among the most vulnerable with an average height of 2 metres (6 ft 6 in) above sea level.
"We're careful to say that the damage is not happening because of rising sea levels - yet," he said.
Many islands are turning to low-cost techniques such as growing taro, a staple food, in pots or small concrete beds to avoid salt intrusion.
"We are also planting mangroves along the coast, that works on some islands as a protective barrier," said Cindy Ehmes, of the Federated States of Micronesia. States lack cash to build barriers against erosion or rising seas.
And several states in the western Pacific are also trying to improve management of reefs to safeguard fish stocks, partly if farmland shrinks. One goal is to protect at least 30 percent of near-shore marine resources by 2020 off Micronesia.
"Moving abroad is the last resort for us," said Joseph Aitaro of Palau. The nations want developed nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to slow sea level rise.
Some delegates say communities are already moving within nations because of climate change stoked by greenhouse gases -- often-cited examples are the Carteret islands of Papua New Guinea, Tegua island in Vanuatu or Moala in Fiji.
"I'd estimate that since the year 2000 there have been 1,000 or 1,500 people moving, maybe 6-7 villages" around the Pacific, said Fe'iloakitau Kaho Tevi, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches in Fiji.
"It is climate change, at high tide the water goes through the centre of the village," he said of Moala. "We find ourselves losing our burial sites, our beaches, our endemic species. And we are losing some of our islands."
Experts say there is no overall tracking of people moving -- or the causes. Some leave outlying islands, drawn by jobs in bigger centres. Subsidence may also sink some atolls.
"There's always the question of 'did climate change play a role in people moving?" said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.
In the Federated States of Micronesia, on the main island of Pohnpei, he said there was a "neighbourhood of people who moved from another island, Chuuk, because of a storm." It was unclear whether the storm was related to global warming.
The U.N. climate panel has projected that the intensity of cyclones is likely to increase because of climate change, even though total numbers of storms may fall.
Sea levels rose worldwide by about 17 centimetres (7 inches) in the 20th century and are projected to rise by another 18-59 cms by 2100, according to the panel. The estimate excludes possible acceleration of a thaw of Antarctica or Greenland.
Islanders worry increasingly about the future.
A video from Kiribati shown on the sidelines of the Bonn talks included a song with the refrain: "Who will take our people? Who will be the good Samaritan for us?".
-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/ (Editing by Ralph Boulton)