Why manage for resilience?

 
 

 
 

Resilient social-ecological systems can sustain desired functions and characteristics despite uncertainties and surprises. As a result, resilience is a key concept because it can be used to identify strategies to create adaptive, flexible systems across urban design, ecosystem management and conservation planning.

Resilience in social-ecological systems includes ecological resilience - the ability of a landscape to sustain desired ecological functions, robust native biodiversity, and critical landscape processes over time, under changing conditions, and despite multiple stressors and uncertainties - as well as social resilience - the ability of individuals or communities to survive, adapt and grow after experiencing external stresses and disturbances as a result of social, political, and environmental change.

Details about the mechanisms that contribute to the resilience of ecosystems can be found in the Landscape Resilience Framework report. These principles provide a holistic framework to consider potential actions likely to confer ecological resilience.

Questions to guide thinking about resilience include:

  1. Setting: What are the biological, geophysical and cultural characteristics that define the opportunities and constraints of the site?

  2. Process: What chemical, biological and physical drivers, events and processes created and sustained the landscape over time?

  3. Connectivity (and Modularity): What linkages exist between processes, populations and habitats across the landscape, and how can these linkages be improved? Conversely, how might individual units retain self-sufficiency and functionality?

  4. Diversity and Complexity: How varied are the landscape features (i.e. habitat types, topographic gradients, etc.) and spatial configuration of biological and physical characteristics of the landscape at nested scales?

  5. Redundancy: Are similar overlapping structural, population and functional characteristics within the landscape present to provide “back up”?

  6. Scale: What spatial extent or time frame is needed to facilitate the necessary landscape functions of species and processes?

  7. People: How can ecological engagement, landscape integration, adaptive management, and stressor management be improved and what is the potential for co-benefits?

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