Resilience

Resilience, in the context of the earth’s ecosystems, is defined as the capacity to absorb a shock, reorganize, and continue to function as before. This basic ability is often taken for granted by the global economy, and yet evidence is mounting that crucial ecosystems are in decline. Without a rethinking of how we use the earth’s resources and the development of an approach based on resilience, many of those declines may be irreversible.

4 thoughts on “Resilience

  1. shinichi Post author

    How to Apply Resilience Thinking—In Australia and Beyond

    by Brian Walker

    https://thesolutionsjournal.com/2016/02/22/how-to-apply-resilience-thinking-in-australia-and-beyond/

    Resilience, in the context of the earth’s ecosystems, is defined as the capacity to absorb a shock, reorganize, and continue to function as before. This basic ability is often taken for granted by the global economy, and yet evidence is mounting that crucial ecosystems are in decline. Without a rethinking of how we use the earth’s resources and the development of an approach based on resilience, many of those declines may be irreversible.

    Australia’s recent experience in confronting declines in its agricultural productivity suggests how this approach can work. In the eighteenth century, European settlement of Australia followed a familiar pattern: the rapid conversion of natural ecosystems to agriculture. The people prospered, populations expanded, and, as the saying goes, Australia grew rich on the sheep’s back. Over the past few decades, however, worrying signs appeared: rangelands were changing from grassy to shrubby states that supported fewer livestock; agricultural soils showed evidence of salinity due to rising water tables following tree clearing, and even wider evidence of increasing acidity due to fertilizers; conflicts over use of limited water arose; and conservationists warned of rapidly declining biodiversity.

    The tone of the debate about how to use the country’s resources began to change, but it wasn’t an easy debate to win. Those who had much to lose from changes in resource policy objected and things got heated politically. During the last decade of the twentieth century, the State of New South Wales, which had the biggest share of agricultural production in the country and most of the Murray-Darling Basin (the breadbasket of Australia), took the initiative. The NSW government’s first step was to address the problem of conflicting policies under different departments. They created a high-level Natural Resources Commission with a cross-government mandate. Next came the creation of Catchment Action Plans for the 13 water catchments into which the state was divided. Two pilot resilience-based schemes were prepared during 2008–2010 by members of the Catchment Management Authorities, a mixture of farmers and technical staff. Driving the whole approach was the idea of building resilience in the catchment areas.

    Some local stakeholders were initially skeptical but, in the words of a Catchment Board Chairman and farmer, “This resilience approach is the way to go; it cuts through the dross we’ve had to deal with and gets to what matters.” The pilot schemes have now been completed, and the NSW government is deciding on whether to adopt the measures statewide. In the meantime, the other catchment areas in NSW and other states are adopting the approach. The future is always uncertain, but the future of NSW’s natural resources looks more promising than it did a decade ago.

    The NSW story demonstrates a creative approach to the global challenge facing ecosystem managers. With a few local exceptions, the ecosystems of the world, natural and agro-ecosystems, are in decline. Rivers, lakes, groundwater reserves, the atmosphere, ocean fisheries, agricultural soils, tropical (and many temperate) forests are all fully or over-used. They are either declining in area and abundance or declining in their diversity, productivity, and capacity to maintain themselves. The globalized economy has extended resource use and harvesting to a multinational scale, fueled by the ideology of boundless consumption that treats ecosystems as a contested open-access resource instead of a global commons. Our misuse of ecosystems is due in part to not recognizing the crucial feedback effects between social behavior and ecosystem function and a failure to understand the cross-scale feedbacks.

    As a consequence, many systems have already shifted into degraded states from which they cannot recover, like the change from a viable agricultural landscape to a salinized one, or from an abundant fish stock to one that is too depleted to recover. We are running many others too close to the margin. The identification of likely planetary boundaries1 for self-regulation of many of the biophysical processes involved has placed special attention on the limits to resource use. Serious declines in human well-being are, however, not restricted to crossing these planetary boundaries. At all scales, from local to regional to global, exceeding the self-regulatory capacity of our ecosystems has ramifying consequences for human well-being. Climatic change; rising sea levels; decreases of fresh water, fish stocks, and forests; and scarcity of farmland could variously trigger large-scale human migrations, social breakdown and revolutions, and conflicts (including nuclear conflicts).

    United Nations

    UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld views construction of the Adaminaby dam (now Eucumbene dam) in New South Wales, Australia, in 1956. In response to declining environmental health in recent decades, New South Wales, the agricultural keystone of Australia, initiated an innovative resilience-based plan, starting with the creation of Catchment Action Plans for the state’s 13 water catchments.
    Awareness of these dangers has led to increasing interest in the ideas of resilience, and its application to the policy and management of social-ecological systems. The NSW story is one example but the idea is spreading to agencies and government departments in other countries, notably in Europe, and to high-level policy advocacy, as shown by the United Nation’s recent report, Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing. What these approaches share is a recognition of three interrelated aspects. The first is a recognition of critical levels, or thresholds, in both social and ecological systems that trigger shifts in the system dynamics to a different (usually less desirable) structure and function. The pilot schemes in NSW identified sets of likely critical thresholds that needed priority attention and that would guide future investment of resources. An important point is that these threshold levels are not fixed and can change as the system is changed by what we do to it.

    The second aspect of resilience has to do with the adaptive capacity of the system, its ability to change and self-organize, or to manage resilience, so as to avoid crossing a threshold. Some of this capacity has to do with the ecological system itself but much of the loss in adaptability is due to human agency, and the adaptive capacity of the system is thus dependent on political leadership and organization, particularly in the interaction between local and regional or national governments. In the NSW example, the pilot schemes identified interactions with higher scales of government as a limiting factor to building resilience. Rules about how state and federal funding could or could not be used constrained options on managing resilience at local levels.

    The third aspect of a resilience approach, and the one I wish to concentrate on here, comes under the general title of transformability, or the capacity to transform into a different kind of system. When a social-ecological system has undergone a regime shift into an undesirable, alternate state from which recovery is not possible, or when such a shift is looming and clearly inevitable, the only option is to transform it into a different kind of system. Much of the world today faces the necessity of transformational change, at all scales. Until 2012, some irrigation farming areas in NSW had not had a water entitlement for several years and, despite occasional relief during high rainfall years, there is not enough water to ensure irrigated farming. It is necessary to transform these areas to some other kind of land use. There are three requirements to effecting this kind of transformation:

    Get beyond the state of denial. Nobody likes fundamental change and individuals, communities, and societies will resist it as long as they can, often to a point where their options for a relatively graceful transformation are severely reduced.
    Identify options for change, which may be present already or which may need to be explored and created. Because it is both dangerous and very difficult to experiment with a whole system, options for change are best developed through safe experiments at fine scales, creating what the transition approach to sustainability calls “safe arenas” for experimenting.2
    Building capacity to change, which usually requires government help at the regional or national level. Ironically, government often promotes damaging business-as-usual practices by handing out subsidies and “special circumstances” (e.g., drought) packages to local authorities, which are essentially help not to change. Instead, government should encourage bottom-up experimentation.
    The three components of transformability are difficult enough to orchestrate in a naturally fluctuating environment. The world today is not like that. The speed and magnitude of directional change, environmentally and socially, are now such that what is needed is continual transformational change in human-dominated systems. As climate change ecologist Stafford Smith and others have forcefully argued, adapting to a particular “new” climate is illogical when continuous adaptation is necessary.3

    What is needed, therefore, is an approach to learning how to change in a continuous way. Adopting this approach will not be easy. The first step is to move beyond the state of denial and, to achieve that, it is necessary to frame the problem—the uncertainties and the possible solutions—in a way that is acceptable and meaningful to people. The second step requires changes to be initiated at fine scales, with successful changes feeding back to the higher scales. Such an approach envisions the world as a multiscale, interconnected system evolving through constant experimentation toward a self-organizing, highly adaptable system that also satisfies human needs.

    Whether or not this is possible will require a longer-term view of resilience at the global scale—just as time is running out to form such a consensus.

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  2. shinichi Post author

    「レジリエンス(Resilience)」は「脆弱性(vulnerability)」の反対の概念であり、自発的治癒力の意味である。

    「回復力」「復元力」「再起力」などとも訳されるが、訳語を用いずそのまま「レジリエンス」または「レジリアンス」と表記して用いることが多い。

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  3. shinichi Post author

    Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems And People in a Changing World

    (2006)

    by Brian Walker and David Salt

    Increasingly, cracks are appearing in the capacity of communities, ecosystems, and landscapes to provide the goods and services that sustain our planet’s well-being. The response from most quarters has been for “more of the same” that created the situation in the first place: more control, more intensification, and greater efficiency.

    “Resilience thinking” offers a different way of understanding the world and a new approach to managing resources. It embraces human and natural systems as complex entities continually adapting through cycles of change, and seeks to understand the qualities of a system that must be maintained or enhanced in order to achieve sustainability. It explains why greater efficiency by itself cannot solve resource problems and offers a constructive alternative that opens up options rather than closing them down.

    In Resilience Thinking, scientist Brian Walker and science writer David Salt present an accessible introduction to the emerging paradigm of resilience. The book arose out of appeals from colleagues in science and industry for a plainly written account of what resilience is all about and how a resilience approach differs from current practices. Rather than complicated theory, the book offers a conceptual overview along with five case studies of resilience thinking in the real world. It is an engaging and important work for anyone interested in managing risk in a complex world. Increasingly, cracks are appearing in the capacity of communities, ecosystems, and landscapes to provide the goods and services that sustain our planet’s well-being. The response from most quarters has been for “more of the same” that created the situation in the first place: more control, more intensification, and greater efficiency.

    “Resilience thinking” offers a different way of understanding the world and a new approach to managing resources. It embraces human and natural systems as complex entities continually adapting through cycles of change, and seeks to understand the qualities of a system that must be maintained or enhanced in order to achieve sustainability. It explains why greater efficiency by itself cannot solve resource problems and offers a constructive alternative that opens up options rather than closing them down.

    In Resilience Thinking, scientist Brian Walker and science writer David Salt present an accessible introduction to the emerging paradigm of resilience. The book arose out of appeals from colleagues in science and industry for a plainly written account of what resilience is all about and how a resilience approach differs from current practices. Rather than complicated theory, the book offers a conceptual overview along with five case studies of resilience thinking in the real world. It is an engaging and important work for anyone interested in managing risk in a complex world.

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  4. shinichi Post author

    レジリエンス思考――変わりゆく環境と生きる

    (2020)

    by ブライアン・ウォーカー, デイヴィッド・ソルト

    translated by 黒川耕大

    ある時突然、景色が変貌し始める。長い間変わらずにあった一帯に、気がつくと見慣れない植物がはびこっている。大きな嵐の後、サンゴ礁が回復しない。大雨の後、一帯の草木が枯れ始める……。私たちが問題に気づくのは、いつもわかりやすい変化が起きた後だ。
    著者によれば、変化はずっと前から始まっていた。何の変化も起きていないように見えても、どの生態系も静かに「レジリエンス」を失い続けていたのだ。
    レジリエンスとは、「システムが攪乱を吸収しながらも、基本的な機能と構造を維持する能力」を言う。著者によれば、生態系のレジリエンスは有限であり、変動する。その低下を招く要因は生態系によってさまざまだ。ただし、どれもゆっくりと変化するため気づかれにくい。
    その「遅い変数」を認識しないまま開発を行うと、気づかぬうちにレジリエンスの低下を招く。そして生態系は、以前ならば十分耐えられた外乱によって、簡単に別の生態系に移行してしまう。著者は、生態系を構成する機能群や「遅い変数」を見極め、別の生態系への移行が起きる閾値をモニタリングする「レジリエンス思考」による環境保全を提唱している。
    変動し続ける自然に対し、そのレジリエンスに注目しながら共に生きる術を五つの事例で解説する、現代の必携書。
    [目次抄]
    第1章 複雑な世界に生きるということ ──レジリエンス思考のすすめ
    事例研究 1 切り刻まれた国の象徴 ──フロリダ・エバーグレーズ
    第2章 システムのルール ──レジリエンス思考のための心の余地を創る
    事例研究 2 塩と雨のはざまで ──オーストラリア、ゴールバーン・ブロークン流域
    第3章 閾値を超える ──道を選ぶ時は、後戻りできないことも覚悟して
    事例研究 3 失われつつある至宝 ──カリブ海のサンゴ礁
    第4章 循環の中へ ──適応サイクルを回り、システムは変わってゆく
    事例研究 4 湖がたどりうるいくつかのシナリオ ──ウィスコンシン州、ノーザン・ハイランド・レイク・ディストリクト
    第5章 レジリエンスを理解する ──レジリエンス思考をどう応用する?
    事例研究5 湿地帯のレジリエンスを構築する ──スウェーデン、クリスチャンスタッズ・ヴァッテンリーケ
    第6章 縮みつつある世界に余地を生み出す ──レジリエンスと持続可能性
    レジリエンスの高い世界に向けたあとがき/ さらに勉強したい人のために



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