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Allen, C., A. Garmestani, AND D. Angeler. Resilience. Resilience. Oxford University Press, Cary, NC, , 00, (2016).
Resilience is an important framework for understanding and managing complex systems of people and nature that are subject to abrupt and nonlinear change. The idea of ecological resilience was slow to gain acceptance in the scientific community, taking thirty years to become widely accepted (Gunderson 2000, cited under Original Definition). Currently, the concept is commonplace in academics, management, and policy. Although the idea has quantitative roots in the ecological sciences and was proposed as a measurable quality of ecosystems, the broad use of resilience led to an expansion of definitions and applications. Holling’s original definition, presented in 1973 (Holling 1973, cited under Original Definition), was simply the amount of disturbance that a system can withstand before it shifts into an alternative stability domain. Ecological resilience, therefore, emphasizes that the dynamics of complex systems are nonlinear, meaning that these systems can transition, often abruptly, between dynamic states with substantially different structures, functions, and processes. The transition of ecological systems from one state to another frequently has important repercussions for humans. Recent definitions are more normative and qualitative, especially in the social sciences, and a competing definition, that of engineering resilience, is still often used. Resilience is an emergent phenomenon of complex systems, which means it cannot be deduced from the behavior of the individual parts of a system. Scientists understand complex systems to be self-organizing (i.e., positive reinforcements exist, often between biota and abiotic processes, such as fire), to be hierarchically structured, and to possess uncertainty, nonlinear dynamics, and emergent phenomena. Complex systems are self-organizing because there is no central entity responsible for directing processes and functions, and there is reinforcement between structure and process. This article focuses on ecological resilience but also describes engineering resilience and other uses of the term.
Sustainability and resilience are both integrative measures. In order to manifest a transition to a sustainability paradigm, we must develop a better understanding of resilience, as sustainability is dependent upon resilience. By this, we mean that sustainability is not a static state or an end point, but rather a dynamic process. A process that has the capacity for non-linear change, and cross-scale interactions, which presents a tremendous challenge to laws based upon the conception of systems existing in a “balance of nature.” In essence, the law will need to be reformed, or new law will have to be crafted in order to allow us to manage for resilience.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (BOOK CHAPTER)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION
SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS BRANCH