"As we close the 13th issue of Ecology and Society and approach a new year, we will step out on a limb and speculate about our collective future. But first we present the observations about our current global situation that form the basis of such speculation."
"Human and ecological elements of resource management systems co-adapt over time. In this paper, we examine the drivers of change in forest management policy in British Columbia since 1850. We asked: How has a set of system attributes changed over time, and what drivers contributed to change when it occurred? We simultaneously examined a set of three propositions relating to drivers and dynamics of policy change. We find that factors contributing to the level of impacts, like technology, changed substantially over time and had dramatic impacts. In partial contrast, the institutions used to exercise control (patterns of agency and governance) remained the same until relatively recently. Other system attributes remained unchanged (e.g., the concept of ecosystems as stable entities that humans can manage and control). Substantive, decision-relevant uncertainties characterized all periods of management but did not act as a barrier to the adoption of new regimes at any time. Against this backdrop of constancy in some attributes, and change in others, a few exogenous drivers (e.g., technology, war, markets, legal decisions, ideas, and climate) triggered episodic reexamination of guidelines for resource management. The implications of these findings for future policy change in this system are discussed."
"The potential consequences of anthropogenic habitat fragmentation on species diversity and extinction have drawn considerable attention in recent decades. In many cases, traditional island biogeography theory has been applied to explain the observed patterns. Here, we propose that habitat fragmentation as a selective force can be traced in mammalian body length changes. By exploring historical sources, we are able to show that the body length of Danish mammals has altered over a period of 175 years, possibly in response to increasing habitat fragmentation. The rate of body length change was generally lowest in medium-sized mammals, and increased with both smaller and larger body mass. Small mammals have generally increased, whereas large mammals have decreased in length. In addition to habitat fragmentation, some species may experience other selective forces, such as traffic, and may be trapped in an evolutionary tug-of-war, where the selective forces pull in opposite directions."
"In the United States, citizens, policy makers, and natural resource managers alike have become concerned about urban sprawl, both locally and nationally. Most assessments of sprawl, or undesired growth patterns, have focused on quantifying land-use changes in urban and metropolitan areas. It is critical for ecologists to examine and improve understanding of land-use changes beyond the urban fringe-also called exurban sprawl-because of the extensive and widespread changes that are occurring, and which often are located adjacent to or nearby 'protected' lands. "The primary goal of this paper is to describe the development of a nationwide, fine-grained database of historical, current, and forecasted housing density, which enables these changes to be quantified as a foundation for inference of possible ecological effects. Forecasted patterns were generated by the Spatially Explicit Regional Growth Model, which relates historical growth patterns with accessibility to urban and protected lands. Secondary goals are to report briefly on the status and trend of exurban land-use changes across the U.S., and to introduce a landscape sprawl metric that captures patterns of land-use change. In 2000, there were 125 729 km2 in urban and suburban (<0.68 ha per unit) residential housing density nationwide (coterminous USA), but there were slightly over seven times that (917 090 km2) in exurban housing density (0.68-16.18 ha per unit). The developed footprint has grown from 10.1% to 13.3% (1980 to 2000), roughly at a rate of 1.60% per year. This rate of land development outpaced the population growth rate (1.18% per year) by 25%. Based on model forecasts, urban and suburban housing densities will expand to 2.2% by 2020, whereas exurban development will expand to 14.3%."
"The response of local economies to the globalization process can have a large effect on population and land-use dynamics. In countries with a high population density and relatively high levels of education, the globalization process has resulted in a shift in the local economy from agriculture to manufacturing, technology, and service sectors. This shift in the economy has impacted land-use dynamics by decreasing agricultural lands, increasing urban growth, and in some cases, increasing forest cover. This process of economic and forest transition has been well documented in Puerto Rico for the period 1950 to 1990, but some authors predicted that poor planning and continued urban growth would eliminate the gains in forest cover. To investigate the impacts of recent economic changes, we evaluated demographic and land-use changes for 880 barrios (i.e., neighborhoods), the smallest administrative unit, in Puerto Rico using government census data from 1990 and 2000 and land-cover classifications from 1991 and 2000. During this period, the population increased by 284 127 people (8.2%). Most of the growth was in the suburban barrios, whereas urban barrios lost population. This shift was reflected by the construction of more than 100 000 housing units in suburban barrios. Although urban sprawl is perceived as the major land-cover change, urban cover only increased from 10% to 11% between 1990 and 2000, whereas the increase in forest cover was much greater (28% to 40%). Grasslands and shrublands were the major sources of new urban and forest areas in 2000. Although these results are encouraging in terms of increasing forest cover, most of the new development has been concentrated in the coastal plains, which are the location of most of the remaining agricultural areas, a few protected areas, and threatened ecosystems (e.g., mangroves)."
"Although Walters' synthesis was not encouraging for those embarking on programs of adaptive management, it is good to see the sorts of problems many of us experience emerging from unpublished practice. This can only lead to increased implementation of adaptive management."
"The facts: The global human population has tripled in the lifetime of this (sexagenarian) reviewer; its momentum will double global population again in this century. Average per capita consumption of goods and services continues to increase as the consumption standards of industrialized countries are spread by a globalizing economy. The twin threats of increasing population and increasing per capita resource consumption and waste generation are threatening the life-supporting systems and functions of the environment. If this process continues unabated, the human project is unsustainable."
"The Root Causes of Biodiversity Loss analyzes 10 case studies of biodiversity loss from Brazil, Cameroon, China, the Danube floodplain, India, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Vietnam. These cases were selected to represent specific ecosystem types, distinct sociopolitical contexts, or biodiversity hotspots. The scarcity of reliable ecological data and accurate government records motivated most research teams to develop descriptive, rather than quantitative, models of biodiversity loss. These models emphasize anthropogenic processes, marginalizing biophysical processes such as climate change or changes in lake salinity. The editors, Alexander Wood, Pamela Stedman-Edwards, and Johanna Mang, integrate the cases, identify commonalties, and extract lessons and global recommendations."
"As a follow-up to the observations of Charles Robertson from 1884 to 1916, we revisited the Carlinville, Illinois, area between 18 August 1970 and 13 September1972 to sample and identify bee species (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). We concentrated on collecting nonparasitic bees (and excluded Apis and Bombus) visiting 24 plant species that bloomed at various times of the year, and upon which Charles Robertson found many bee species. For example, we collected most intensively on spring-blooming Claytonia virginica and fall-blooming Aster pilosus, upon which Robertson reported 58 and 90 bee visitors, respectively. Bees were also collected on an opportunistic basis at some other plants. We updated the species names used by Robertson for revisions and synonymies. This paper summarizes a comparison of the two collections, made about 75 years apart at the same small geographic location. "The study considers 214 valid bee species that Robertson collected plus an additional 14 species found by us but not by Robertson. Of these 214, we collected 140 species. The absence of most of the remaining 74 species that we did not collect can be explained by examining their plant preferences. Robertson did not record 47 of these 74 species on the 24 plant species where we collected intensively, and he observed 19 more species on only one or two of the 24 plant species. Additionally, he observed 21 of them on only one of the 441 plants he studied. Of the bee species found by Robertson on the 24 plant species, we collected 82% on the same plant species. "The land uses and land cover on Macoupin County's 225,464 ha (558,080 acres), which bear directly on the type and availability of habitat for bees and their host plants, varied considerably over two centuries. For example, in the early 1800s, land cover was about 73% prairie and 27% forest. The estimated 59,792 ha (148,000 acres) of forested land in 1820 diminished to 24,644 ha (61,000 acres) by 1924. It then grew to 34,340 ha (85,000 acres) by 1962. Agriculture is the predominant land use; in 1967, 59% of the land was in harvested crops (primarily row crops) and 15% was in pasture. Despite habitat changes and the passage of 75 years, our 1970 and 1972 Carlinville collections show a high degree of similarity with those of Robertson, possibly because diverse habitats within the agricultural matrix contained the host plants and nesting sites required by the bees. We recommend that a third survey of this area be undertaken as part of a long-term study made possible by the meticulous 19th century records of Charles Robertson, which must be preserved."
"In order to examine the scientific feasibility of area closures for sea turtle protection, we determined the spatial dynamics of sea turtles for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico by analyzing National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) aerial survey data in September, October, and November of 1992, 1993, and 1994. Turtle sightings were grouped into depth zones and NMFS fishery statistical zones, and strip transect methods were used to estimate the relative abundance of sea turtles in each subzone. Average shrimping intensity was calculated for each subzone for all months of 1992, 1993, and 1994, as well as for the months and locations of the aerial survey. The spatial overlap of sea turtle abundance and shrimping intensity suggested regions where interactions are likely to occur. Sea turtles were observed at much higher rates along the coast of Florida than in the Western Gulf; the highest density of sea turtles was observed in the Florida Keys region (0.525 turtles/km2). Shrimping intensity was highest in the Western Gulf along the coast of Texas and Louisiana, for both annual and fall estimates. Among alternative management scenarios, area closures in conjunction with continued Turtle Excluder Device (TED) requirements would probably best prevent sea turtles from future extinction. By implementing shrimping closures off of South Padre Island, Texas, a potential second nesting population of Kemp's ridleys (Lepidochelys kempi) could be protected. Closing waters where shrimping intensity is low and sea turtle abundance is high (e.g., South Florida waters) would protect sea turtles without economically impacting a large number of shrimpers."
"Discontinuous structure in landscapes may result in discontinuous, aggregated species bodymass patterns, reflecting the scales of structure available to animal communities within a landscape. The edges of these body-mass aggregations reflect transitions between available scales of landscape structure. Such transitions, or scale breaks, are theoretically associated with increased biological variability. We hypothesized that variability in population abundance is greater in animal species near the edge of bodymass aggregations than it is in species that are situated in the interior of body-mass aggregations. We tested this hypothesis by examining both temporal and spatial variability in the abundance of species in the bird community of the Florida Everglades sub-ecoregion, USA. Analyses of both temporal and spatial variability in population abundance supported our hypothesis. Our results indicate that variability within complex systems may be non-random, and is heightened where transitions in scales of process and structure occur. This is the first explicit test of the hypothetical relationship between increased population variability and scale breaks."
"We review four case studies in which there is a risk of extinction or severe reduction in highly valued species if we ignore either, or both, of two ecosystem control options. 'Symptomatic control' implies direct control of extinction risk through direct harvesting or culling of competitors and predators. 'Systemic control' implies treating the causes of the problem that led to an unnaturally high abundance in the first place. We demonstrate, with a discussion of historically observed population trends, how surprising trophic interactions can emerge as a result of alterations to a system. Simulation models were developed for two of the case studies as aids to adaptive policy design, to expose possible abundance changes caused by trophic interactions and to highlight key uncertainties about possible responses to ecosystem management policies involving active intervention to control abundances. With reasonable parameter values, these models predict a wide range of possible responses given available data, but do indicate a good chance that active control would reverse declines and reverse extinction risks. We find that controlling seal (Phoca vitulina) populations in the Georgia Strait increases juvenile survival rates of commercial salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) species, but that commensurate increases in hake populations from decreased seal predation could be a compensatory source of predation on juvenile salmon. We also show that wolf (Canis lupus) control and moose (Alces alces) harvest bring about a recovery in caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) populations, where simple habitat protection policies fail to recover caribou before wolf predation causes severe declines. The results help address a common problem in disturbed ecosystems, where controlling extinction risks can mean choosing between active control of species abundance or establishing policies of protection, and allowing threatened species to recover naturally."
"Uncertainty of late has become an increasingly important and controversial topic in water resource management, and natural resources management in general. Diverse managing goals, changing environmental conditions, conflicting interests, and lack of predictability are some of the characteristics that decision makers have to face. This has resulted in the application and development of strategies such as adaptive management, which proposes flexibility and capability to adapt to unknown conditions as a way of dealing with uncertainties. However, this shift in ideas about managing has not always been accompanied by a general shift in the way uncertainties are understood and handled. To improve this situation, we believe it is necessary to recontextualize uncertainty in a broader way relative to its role, meaning, and relationship with participants in decision making because it is from this understanding that problems and solutions emerge. Under this view, solutions do not exclusively consist of eliminating or reducing uncertainty, but of reframing the problems as such so that they convey a different meaning. To this end, we propose a relational approach to uncertainty analysis. Here, we elaborate on this new conceptualization of uncertainty, and indicate some implications of this view for strategies for dealing with uncertainty in water management. We present an example as an illustration of these concepts."
"Resilience is a vital attribute that characterizes a system's capacity to cope with stress. Researchers have examined the measurement of resilience in ecosystems and in social-ecological systems, and the comparative vulnerability of social groups. Our paper refocuses attention on the processes and relations that create social resilience. Our central proposition is that the creation of social resilience is linked to a community's ability to access critical resources. We explore this proposition through an analysis of how community resilience to the stress of water scarcity is influenced by historically contingent mechanisms to gain, control, and maintain access to water. Access is defined broadly as the ability of a community to actually benefit from a resource, and includes a wider range of relations than those derived from property rights alone. We provide a framework for assessing the construction of social resilience and use it to examine, first, the different processes and relations that enabled four communities in northern California to acquire access to water, and second, how access contributed to their differential levels of resilience to potential water scarcity. Legal water rights are extremely difficult to alter, and given the variety of mechanisms that can generate access, our study suggests that strengthening and diversifying a range of structural and relational mechanisms to access water can enhance a community's resilience to water scarcity."
"Flood disturbance processes play a key role in the functioning of riparian ecosystems and in the maintenance of biodiversity along river corridors. As a result, riparian ecosystems can be described as mobile habitat mosaics characterized by variability and unpredictability. Any river restoration initiative should aim to mimic these attributes. This paper suggests that there needs to be an increased institutional capacity to accept some levels of both variability and unpredictability in the ecological outcomes of river restoration projects. Restoration projects have frequently used some form of historical or contemporary reference system to define objectives and to help in the evaluation process. Using these reference systems can give a false sense of the predictability of ecological outcomes. We suggest that reference systems need to be used with caution for six reasons: (1) there are often no appropriate reference systems to use, (2) many catchment parameters have changed since the times of chosen historic reference systems, (3) climate change has been continuous throughout the Holocene, (4) projected climate change is of uncertain magnitude, (5) alien species cannot be avoided, and (6) landscape context changes through time. As well as defining short-term objectives, we suggest that river restoration projects should also formulate longerterm (decadel) restoration trajectories that are less predictable but more representative of real system attributes. Restoration trajectories could be defined using a range of ecological outcomes to accommodate interannual variability. The challenges of defining what levels of variability are important for restoring European floodplain forests are used to demonstrate the difficulties of broadening approaches and creating trajectories. In particular, the changing significance of variability at different spatial and temporal scales is discussed. An account is given of a restoration project at Wicken Fen in the United Kingdom in which nondeterministic approaches to goal setting have been initiated."
The lack of understanding on how to integrate ecological issues into so-called social-ecological natural resource management hampers sustainability in tropical forest landscape management. We build upon a comparison of three cases that show inverse gradients of knowledge and perceptions of the environment and human pressure on natural resources. We discuss why the ecological dimension currently lags behind in the management of tropical forest landscapes and to what extent participatory development can enhance the fit among ecological, socio-cultural, and economic systems. For each case study, socio-cultural and anthropological aspects of society and indigenous knowledge of the environment, the distribution of natural resources, classification, and management are documented in parallel with biophysical studies. Our results confirm that the ecological dimension remains weakly addressed and difficult to integrate into development actions when dealing with tropical forested landscape management in developing countries. We discuss three issues to understand why this is so: the disdain for traditional ecological knowledge and practices, the antagonism between economy and ecology, and the mismatch between traditional and modern governance systems. Participatory development shows potential to enhance the fit among ecological, socio-cultural, and economic systems through two dimensions: the generation and sharing of information to understand trends and the generation of new coordination practices that allow stakeholders to voice environmental concerns. In the absence of a champion, institutions, and financial resources, the expected outcomes remain on paper, even when changes are negotiated. Future research in natural resource management must emphasize better integration at the interface of ecology and governance. Finally, we identify three challenges: the design of operational tools to reconcile ecology with social and economic concerns, the creation of governance systems to institutionalize collaborative and integrated resource management, and the design of enabler organizations close to local communities.
"Integration of biodiversity conservation into economic utilization of natural resources has become a central response to the challenges of sustainable development. However, the resources and competencies required to implement such an integrated strategy at the level of the individual, the organization, and the sector are not known. To address this knowledge gap, we have developed an approach to analyze responses of organizations to environmental change and evolving social demands for biodiversity conservation. We analyze the scale, scope, and distribution of the resources and competencies that support the delineation of ecologically significant habitats in intensively managed nonindustrial private forests in Finland, an important international actor in the sector. Based on a national survey of 311 foresters working in public agencies, private firms, and cooperative organizations, we investigate the division of labor in the sector and the patterns of investment in human capital, organizational resources, and information networks that support delineation. We find that communicating frequently with the actors who are directly engaged in field operations is consistently the most productive resource in conserving habitats. Our analysis identifies differences in competencies among different types of organizations, as well as distinct roles for public and private-sector organizations. Beyond identification of differences in conservation behavior and competencies among organizations, our analysis points to substantial uniformity in the sector. We attribute similarities in patterns of investment in conservation resources to historically structured central coordination mechanisms within the sector that include education, training, and broadly shared professional norms. These institutional structures and the resulting uniformity can be potential impediments to radical innovation. Our approach to analyzing adaptation to environmental change highlights the interplay between investments in competencies by actors within a particular technical domain and the evolving external institutional environment."
"Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is controversial for environmental issues, but is nevertheless employed by many governments and private organizations for making environmental decisions. Controversy centers on the practice of economic discounting in CBA for decisions that have substantial long-term consequences, as do most environmental decisions. Customarily, economic discounting has been calculated at a constant exponential rate, a practice that weights the present heavily in comparison with the future. Recent analyses of economic data show that the assumption of constant exponential discounting should be modified to take into account large uncertainties in long-term discount rates. A proper treatment of this uncertainty requires that we consider returns over a plausible range of assumptions about future discounting rates. When returns are averaged in this way, the schemes with the most severe discounting have a negligible effect on the average after a long period of time has elapsed. This re-examination of economic uncertainty provides support for policies that prevent or mitigate environmental damage. We examine these effects for three examples: a stylized renewable resource, management of a long-lived species(Atlantic Right Whales), and lake eutrophication."
"Plans to solve complex environmental problems should always consider the role of surprise. Nevertheless, there is a tendency to emphasize known computable aspects of a problem while neglecting aspects that are unknown and failing to ask questions about them. The tendency to ignore the noncomputable can be countered by considering a wide range of perspectives, encouraging transparency with regard to conflicting viewpoints, stimulating a diversity of models, and managing for the emergence of new syntheses that reorganize fragmentary knowledge."
"Common-pool resources are managed in complex environments that are amenable to understanding, analysis, and management at multiple levels. This paper develops a heuristic criterion to identify the costs and benefits of adopting various levels of analysis when constructing theory for common-pool resource management. It argues that there is no single optimal level for such analysis. Instead, a trade-off is posed where theories at higher levels tend to be more accurate but less meaningful than theories at lower levels."
Forest land managers are faced with unprecedented global pressures to produce resources for human consumption (e.g., Liu and Diamond 2005), while still maintaining essential ecosystem services benefiting society at multiple spatial scales (Costanza et al. 1997). These global pressures alone present daunting challenges to sustainable forest management (SFM) worldwide (Lunnan et al. 2004, Essman et al. 2007), but they are occurring in the context of an unprecedented rate of climate change (Solomon et al. 2007) that is anticipated to have drastic effects on forest ecosystem productivity and function (Melillo et al. 1993, Dale et al. 2001, Garcia-Gonzalo et al. 2007). The rate and scale of these social, economic, and environmental changes facing forestry worldwide underscores an urgent need to understand their multiscale interactions and use that insight to guide SFM planning efforts into an uncertain future (Innes and Hickey 2006).
"This research follows the manner in which State-driven, upwardly accountable, forest decentralization programs play out on the ground, and evaluates their impact on forests and local institutions, a topic of much current concern and debate. In a landscape in Nepal's Terai plains, we conducted a census of 23 co-managed community and buffer-zone forest user groups--two predominant approaches to involving communities in forest-management activities in Nepal's Terai plains--to draw statistically relevant conclusions about the relative impact of these two programs at a landscape scale. We use a multidate Landsat image classification to develop a land-cover change classification, and use this to generate objective, quantitative, biophysical indicators that enable us to assess the extent of clearing and regeneration in the forest areas controlled and managed by each of these communities. In-depth field interviews with the communities provide us with information about the impact of these initiatives on local institutions. Finally, we link these two kinds of information sets to interpret the satellite information on forest-cover change with reference to the socioeconomic processes and management rules that influence forest-cover change in these regions. Satellite image analysis shows the regeneration of several patches of forest that are managed within the purview of the Royal Chitwan National Park's buffer-zone program. This can be related to high levels of investment in plantation and forest-management activities by external agencies. The substantial revenue that these communities derive from ecotourism also helps, allowing them to hire forest guards, and afford better monitoring capabilities. In contrast, the less wealthy, community forestry user groups have to make do with volunteer patrols, and do not have the same level of external technical and financial support to invest in plantation activities. Buffer-zone users, however, have to deal with rather strict controls on export of forest products, which were put in place by park authorities, and which the users do not have the power to modify. Downward accountability is limited, and communities do not have a high degree of effective control over forest-management policies. Thus, local communities currently function under a situation of constraint, where they have been delegated responsibilities, but lack the devolution of property rights and decision-making power. This has significant and potentially negative implications for the future of the program."
"Ecosystem service (ES) trade-offs arise from management choices made by humans, which can change the type, magnitude, and relative mix of services provided by ecosystems. Trade-offs occur when the provision of one ES is reduced as a consequence of increased use of another ES. In some cases,a trade-off may be an explicit choice; but in others, trade-offs arise without premeditation or even awareness that they are taking place. Trade-offs in ES can be classified along three axes: spatial scale, temporal scale, and reversibility. Spatial scale refers to whether the effects of the trade-off are felt locally or at a distant location. Temporal scale refers to whether the effects take place relatively rapidly or slowly. Reversibility expresses the likelihood that the perturbed ES may return to its original state if the perturbation ceases. Across all four Millennium Ecosystem Assessment scenarios and selected case study examples, trade-off decisions show a preference for provisioning, regulating, or cultural services (in that order). Supporting services are more likely to be 'taken for granted.' Cultural ES are almost entirely unquantified in scenario modeling; therefore, the calculated model results do not fully capture losses of these services that occur in the scenarios. The quantitative scenario models primarily capture the services that are perceived by society as more important-provisioning and regulating ecosystem services-and thus do not fully capture trade-offs of cultural and supporting services. Successful management policies will be those that incorporate lessons learned from prior decisions into future management actions. Managers should complement their actions with monitoring programs that, in addition to monitoring the short-term provisions of services, also monitor the long-term evolution of slowly changing variables. Policies can then be developed to take into account ES trade-offs at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Successful strategies will recognize the inherent complexities of ecosystem management and will work to develop policies that minimize the effects of ES trade-offs."
Scenario analysis is a useful tool for exploring key uncertainties that may shape the future of social-ecological systems. This paper explores the methods, costs, and benefits of developing and linking scenarios of social-ecological systems across multiple spatial scales. Drawing largely on experiences in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we suggest that the desired degree of cross-scale linkage depends on the primary aim of the scenario exercise. Loosely linked multiscale scenarios appear more appropriate when the primary aim is to engage in exploratory dialog with stakeholders. Tightly coupled cross-scale scenarios seem to work best when the main objective is to further our understanding of cross-scale interactions or to assess trade-offs between scales. The main disadvantages of tightly coupled cross-scale scenarios are that their development requires substantial time and financial resources, and that they often suffer loss of credibility at one or more scales. The reasons for developing multiscale scenarios and the expectations associated with doing so therefore need to be carefully evaluated when choosing the desired degree of cross-scale linkage in a particular scenario exercise.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of the most powerful and controversial environmental laws in the United States. As a result of its uncompromising position against biodiversity loss, the ESA has become the primary driver of many ecological restoration efforts in the United States. This article explains why the ESA has become the impetus for so many of these efforts and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the ESA as a primary driver from a resilience-based perspective. It argues that in order to accommodate resilience theory, several changes to ESA implementation and enforcement should be made. First and foremost, there is a need to shift management strategies from a species-centered to a systems-based approach. Chief among the shifts required will be a more integrated approach to governance that includes a willingness to reassess demands placed on ecological systems by our social systems. Building resilience will also require more proactive management efforts that support the functioning of system processes before they are endangered and on the brink of regime change. Finally, resilience thinking requires a reorientation of management away from goals associated with achieving preservation, restoration, and optimization and toward goals associated with fostering complexity and adaptive capacity.
Bossel's (2001) systems-based approach for deriving comprehensive indicator sets provides one of the most holistic frameworks for developing sustainability indicators. It ensures that indicators cover all important aspects of system viability, performance, and sustainability, and recognizes that a system cannot be assessed in isolation from the systems upon which it depends and which in turn depend upon it. In this reply, we show how Bossel's approach is part of a wider convergence toward integrating participatory and reductionist approaches to measure progress toward sustainable development. However, we also show that further integration of these approaches may be able to improve the accuracy and reliability of indicators to better stimulate community learning and action. Only through active community involvement can indicators facilitate progress toward sustainable development goals. To engage communities effectively in the application of indicators, these communities must be actively involved in developing, and even in proposing, indicators. The accuracy, reliability, and sensitivity of the indicators derived from local communities can be ensured through an iterative process of empirical and community evaluation. Communities are unlikely to invest in measuring sustainability indicators unless monitoring provides immediate and clear benefits. However, in the context of goals, targets, and/or baselines, sustainability indicators can more effectively contribute to a process of development that matches local priorities and engages the interests of local people.
The inability to organize collective action for pest control can lead to severe problems. This paper focuses on the locust management system in Kazakhstan since the formation of the Soviet State. During the Transition Period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Plant Protection Service disintegrated. The principles of central planning were replaced with individualistic approaches with little state involvement in pest control activities or pesticide regulation. The financial and ideological reasons for dismantling the existing pest control system did not recognize the potential impact that policy-induced changes in agro-ecological conditions and control practices would have on pest development. Nature hit back at the induced institutional change that occurred in the Kazakh pest control system: an extremely harmful locust plague took the country by surprise between 1998 and 2001. This paper examines from an interdisciplinary perspective the co-evolution of locust populations, land use systems, knowledge about locusts, campaigns against them, and institutions in Soviet times and in the Transition Period. It argues the need for collective action theory to extend its present focus from local level institutions for resource management to higher level social-technical systems.
"The concept of resilience has evolved considerably since Holling's (1973) seminal paper. Different interpretations of what is meant by resilience, however, cause confusion. Resilience of a system needs to be considered in terms of the attributes that govern the system's dynamics. Three related attributes of social-ecological systems (SESs) determine their future trajectories: resilience, adaptability, and transformability. Resilience(the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks) has four components-latitude, resistance, precariousness, and panarchy-most readily portrayed using the metaphor of a stability landscape. Adaptability is the capacity of actors in the system to influence resilience (in a SES, essentially to manage it). There are four general ways in which this can be done, corresponding to the four aspects of resilience. Transformability is the capacity to create a fundamentally new system when ecological, economic, or social structures make the existing system untenable. "The implications of this interpretation of SES dynamics for sustainability science include changing the focus from seeking optimal states and the determinants of maximum sustainable yield (the MSY paradigm), to resilience analysis, adaptive resource management, and adaptive governance."
"We present a resilience-based approach for assessing sustainability in a sub-catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin in southeast Australia. We define the regional system and identify the main issues, drivers, and potential shocks, then assess both specified and general resilience. The current state of the system is a consequence of changes in resource use. We identify ten known or possible biophysical, economic, and social thresholds operating at different scales, with possible knock-on effects between them. Crossing those thresholds may result in irreversible changes in goods and services generated by the region. Changes in resilience, in general, reflect a pattern of past losses with some signs of recent improvements. Interventions in the system for managing resilience are constrained by current governance, and attention needs to be paid to the roles and capacities of the various institutions. An overview of the current state of the system and likely future trends suggests that transformational change in the region be seriously considered."
"The lakes in the northern highlands of Wisconsin, USA, the lakes and wetlands of Kristianstads Vattenrike in southern Sweden, and the Everglades of Florida, USA, provide cases that can be used to compare the linkages between ecological resilience and social dynamics. The erosion of ecological resilience in aquatic and wetland ecosystems is often a result of past management actions and is manifest as a real or perceived ecological crisis. Learning is a key ingredient in response to the loss of ecological resilience. Learning is facilitated through networks that operate in distinct arenas and are structured for dialogue, synthesis, and imaginative solutions to chart alternative futures. The networks also help counter maladaptive processes such as information control or manipulation, bureaucratic inertia, or corruption. The networks help create institutional arrangements that provide for more learning and flexibility and for the ability to change. Trust and leadership appear to be key elements for adaptability and transformability."
This paper combines agent-based modeling of structural change with agricultural policy analysis. Using the agent-based model AgriPoliS, we investigate the impact of a regime switch in agricultural policy on structural change under various framework conditions. Instead of first doing a sensitivity analysis to analyze the properties of our model and then examining the introduced policy in an isolated manner, we use a meta-modeling approach in combination with the statistical technique of Design of Experiments to systematically analyze the relationship between policy change and model assumptions regarding key determinants of structural change such as interest rates, managerial abilities, and technical change. As a result, we observe that the effects of policies are quite sensitive to the mentioned properties. We conclude that an isolated analysis of a policy regime switch would be of only minor value for policy advice given the ability of simulation models to examine various potential futures.
"In Janssen et al. (2006), we presented a bibliometric analysis of the resilience, vulnerability, and adaptation knowledge domains within the research activities on human dimensions of global environmental change. We have updated the analysis because 2 years have gone by since the original analysis, and 1113 more publications can now be added to the database. We analyzed how the resulting 3399 publications between 1967 and 2007 are related in terms of co-authorship and citations. The rapid increase in the number of publications in the three knowledge domains continued over the last 2 years, and we still see an overlap between the knowledge domains. We were also able to identify the hot publications of the last 2 years."
"This paper is a methodological contribution to emerging debates on the role of learning,particularly forward-looking (anticipatory) learning, as a key element for adaptation and resilience in the context of climate change. First, we describe two major challenges: understanding adaptation as a process and recognizing the inadequacy of existing learning tools, with a specific focus on high poverty contexts and complex livelihood-vulnerability risks. Then, the article examines learning processes from a dynamic systems perspective, comparing theoretical aspects and conceptual advances in resilience thinking and action research/learning (AR/AL). Particular attention is paid to learning loops (cycles), critical reflection, spaces for learning, and power. Finally, we outline a methodological framework to facilitate iterative learning processes and adaptive decision making in practice. We stress memory, monitoring of key drivers of change, scenario planning, and measuring anticipatory capacity as crucial ingredients. Our aim is to identify opportunities and obstacles for forward-looking learning processes at the intersection of climatic uncertainty and development challenges in Africa, with the overarching objective to enhance adaptation and resilient livelihood pathways, rather than learning by shock."
Ecologists have made great strides in developing criteria for describing the resilience of an ecological system. In addition, expansion of that effort to social-ecological systems has begun the process of identifying changes to the social system necessary to foster resilience in an ecological system such as the use of adaptive management and integrated water resource management. But what of the social system itself? Can a social system be considered resilient if it fosters ecological resilience while ignoring equity and justice in the social system? More importantly, will changes to governance needed to foster ecosystem resilience be possible without careful attention to equity and justice in designing those changes? This paper uses the concept of legitimacy in governance as a necessary component of resilience in the social system and will turn to network theory as a means to facilitate integrated water resource management. Using work on the type of adaptive management/governance and integration across management authorities required to foster ecological system resilience, the paper will discuss means to delegate more flexible, adaptive and integrated authority to water management entities, while retaining legitimacy in governance.
"Climate change is upon us. The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly describes the evidence of a changing climate (IPCC 2007a,b). Although scientists disagree about the extent to which these changes will happen, they do agree that there have been and will be changes in average climatic conditions, there will be changes in the frequency and intensity of weather hazards, already variable climates will become less predictable, and there is considerable uncertainty about the distribution and impact of these changes. Actions to reduce the human contribution to the changing climate are slowly happening, but they so far seem too few and too limited to make a significant difference to the climate change scientists predict. What has become clear is that people from all countries, from all income levels, and irrespective of capacity to do so, will have to adapt to these changes. The development and climate research communities have much to learn from each other in helping people with these adaptations."
"A logical starting point for climate change adaptation in the forest sector is to proactively identify management practices and policies that have a higher likelihood of achieving management objectives across a wide range of potential climate futures. This should be followed by implementation of these options and monitoring their success in achieving management objectives within an adaptive management context. Here, we implement an approach to identify locally appropriate adaptation options by tapping into the experiential knowledge base of local forest practitioners while at the same time, building capacity within this community to implement the results. We engaged 30 forest practitioners who are involved with the implementation of a regional forest management plan in identifying climate change vulnerabilities and evaluating alternative adaptation options. A structured decision-making approach was used to frame the assessment. Practitioners identified 24 adaptation options that they considered important to implement in order to achieve the regional goals and objectives of sustainable forest management in light of climate change."
This paper examines the success of small-scale farming livelihoods in adapting to climate variability and change. We represent adaptation actions as choices within a response space that includes coping but also longer-term adaptation actions, and define success as those actions which promote system resilience, promote legitimate institutional change, and hence generate and sustain collective action. We explore data on social responses from four regions across South Africa and Mozambique facing a variety of climate risks. The analysis suggests that some collective adaptation actions enhance livelihood resilience to climate change and variability but others have negative spillover effects to other scales. Any assessment of successful adaptation is, however, constrained by the scale of analysis in terms of the temporal and spatial boundaries on the system being investigated. In addition, the diversity of mechanisms by which rural communities in southern Africa adapt to risks suggests that external interventions to assist adaptation will need to be sensitive to the location-specific nature of adaptation.
"Over the last 40 years, the Yucatan Peninsula has experienced the implementation and promotion of development programs that have economically and ecologically shaped this region of Mexico. Nowadays, tourist development has become the principal catalyst of social, economic, and ecological changes in the region. All these programs, which are based on a specialization rationale, have historically clashed with traditional Yucatec Maya management of natural resources. Using participant observation, informal and semi-structured interviews, and life-history interviews, we carried out an assessment of a Yucatec Maya natural resources management system implemented by three indigenous communities located within a natural protected area. The assessment, intended as an examination of the land-use practices and productive strategies currently implemented by households, was framed within an ecological economic approach to ecosystems appropriation. To examine the influence of tourism on the multiple-use strategy, we contrasted productive activities among households engaged primarily in ecotourism with those more oriented toward traditional agriculture. Results show that households from these communities allocated an annual average of 586 work days to implement a total of 15 activities in five different land-use units, and that those figures vary significantly in accordance with households productive strategy (agriculture oriented or service oriented). As the region is quickly becoming an important tourist destination and ecotourism is replacing many traditional activities, we discuss the need for a balance between traditional and alternative economic activities that will allow Yucatec Maya communities to diversify their economic options without compromising existing local management practices."
"Human adaptation remains an insufficiently studied part of the subject of climate change. This paper examines the questions of adaptation and change in terms of social-ecological resilience using lessons from a place-specific case study. The Inuvialuit people of the small community of Sachs Harbour in Canada's western Arctic have been tracking climate change throughout the 1990s. We analyze the adaptive capacity of this community to deal with climate change. Short-term responses to changes in land-based activities, which are identified as coping mechanisms, are one component of this adaptive capacity. The second component is related to cultural and ecological adaptations of the Inuvialuit for life in a highly variable and uncertain environment; these represent long-term adaptive strategies. These two types of strategies are, in fact, on a continuum in space and time. This study suggests new ways in which theory and practice can be combined by showing how societies may adapt to climate change at multiple scales. Switching species and adjusting the 'where, when, and how' of hunting are examples of shorter-term responses. On the other hand, adaptations such as flexibility in seasonal hunting patterns, traditional knowledge that allows the community to diversity hunting activities, networks for sharing food and other resources, and intercommunity trade are longer-term, culturally ingrained mechanisms. Individuals, households, and the community as a whole also provide feedback on their responses to change. Newly developing co-management institutions create additional linkages for feedback across different levels, enhancing the capacity for learning and self-organization of the local inhabitants and making it possible for them to transmit community concerns to regional, national, and international levels."
"Large-scale government efforts to develop resources for societal benefit have often experienced cycles of growth and decline that leave behind difficult social and ecological legacies. To understand the origins and outcomes of these failures of resource governance, scholars have applied the framework of the adaptive cycle. In this study, we used the adaptive cycle as a diagnostic approach to trace the drivers and dynamics of forest governance surrounding a boom–bust sequence of industrial forest management in one of the largest-scale resource systems in U.S. history: the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska. Our application of the adaptive cycle combined a historical narrative tracing dynamics in political, institutional, and economic subsystems and a longitudinal analysis of an indicator of overall system behavior (timber harvests). We found that federal policies in concert with global market changes drove transformative change in both forest governance (policy making) and forest management (practices), through creation and dissolution of subsidized long-term lease contracts. Evidence of the systemic resilience provided by these leases was found in the analysis of industry responses to market volatility before and after Tongass-specific federal reforms. Although the lease contracts stabilized the Tongass system for a period of time, they fostered a growing degree of rigidity that contributed to a severe industrial collapse and the subsequent emergence of complex social traps. Broader lessons from the Tongass suggest that large-scale changes occurred only when the nested economic and policy cycles were in coherence, and a systemic effort to minimize social and ecological variability ultimately resulted in catastrophic collapse of governance. This collapse resulted in a pervasive and challenging legacy that prevents Tongass reorganization and limits the adaptive capacity of the larger social–ecological system of southeastern Alaska. Although this legacy has inhibited system renewal for two decades, recent trends indicate the emergence of new opportunities for progress toward sustainable governance of the Tongass National Forest."
"Adaptive management planning projects use multiparty, multidisciplinary workshops and simulation modeling to facilitate dialogue, negotiation, and planning. However, they have been criticized as a poor medium for conflict resolution. Alternative processes from the conflict resolution tradition, e.g.,principled negotiation and sequenced negotiation, address uncertainty and biophysical constraints much less skillfully than does adaptive management. When we evaluate adaptive management planning using conflict resolution practice as a benchmark, we can design better planning procedures. Adaptive management planning procedures emerge that explore system structure, dynamics, and uncertainty, and that also provide a strong negotiation process, grounded in principled exploration of stakeholders' interests and needs. 'Crossing' procedures in this manner is a fertile way of developing new forms of professional practice."
"Ecosystem services are embedded in complex adaptive systems. These systems are riddled with nonlinearities, uncertainties, and surprises, and are made increasingly complex by the many human responses to problems or changes arising within them. In this paper we attempt to determine whether there are certain factors that characterize effective responses in complex systems. We construct a framework for response evaluation with three interconnected scopes or spatial and temporal domains: the scope of an impact, the scope of the awareness of the impact, and the scope of the power or influence to respond. Drawing from the experience of the Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (SAfMA), we explore the applicability of this framework to the example of water management in southern Africa, where an ongoing paradigm shift in some areas has enabled a transition from supply-side to demand-side responses and the creation of new institutions to manage water across scales. We suggest that the most effective responses exhibit congruence between the impact, awareness, and power scopes; distribute impacts across space and time; expand response options; enhance social memory; and depend on power-distributing mechanisms. We conclude by stressing the need for sufficient flexibility to adapt responses to the specific, ever-evolving contexts in which they are implemented. Although our discussion focuses on water in southern Africa, we believe that the framework has broad applicability to a range of complex systems and places."
"Change in freshwater availability is arguably one of the most pressing issues associated with global change. Agriculture, which uses roughly 70% of the total global freshwater supply, figures prominently among sectors that may be adversely affected. Of specific concern are small-scale agricultural systems that make up nearly 90% of all farming systems and produce 40% of agricultural output worldwide. These systems are experiencing a range of novel shocks including increased variability in precipitation and competing demands for water and labor that challenge their capacity to maintain agricultural output. This paper employs a robustness- vulnerability trade-off framework to explore the capacity of such systems to cope with novel shocks and directed change. Motivated by the Pumpa Irrigation System in Nepal, we develop and analyze a simple model of rice-paddy irrigation and use it to demonstrate how institutional arrangements may, in becoming very well tuned to cope with specific shocks and manage particular human interactions associated with irrigated agriculture, generate vulnerabilities to novel shocks. This characterization of robustness-vulnerability trade-off relationships is then used to inform policy options to improve the capacity of small-scale irrigation systems to adapt to changes in freshwater availability."
"This study explores the social, economic, and ecological context within which communities in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia use adaptive coral reef management. We tested whether periodic closures had positive effects on reef resources, and found that both the biomass and the average size of fishes commonly caught in Indo-Pacific subsistence fisheries were greater inside areas subject to periodic closures compared to sites with year-round open access. Surprisingly, both long-lived and short-lived species benefited from periodic closures. Our study sites were remote communities that shared many socioeconomic characteristics; these may be crucial to the effectiveness of adaptive management of reef resources through periodic closures. Some of these factors include exclusive tenure over marine resources, a body of traditional ecological knowledge that allows for the rapid assessment of resource conditions, social customs that facilitate compliance with closures, relatively small human populations, negligible migration, and a relatively low dependence on fisheries. This dynamic adaptive management system, in which communities manage their resources among multiple social and ecological baselines, contrasts with western fisheries management practices, centered on maintaining exploited populations at stable levels in which net production is maximized."
"Lee has advocated for the use of civic science in the implementation of adaptive management experiments, noting that people and political processes are central features of adaptive approaches to land management. This paper explores the growing relationship between the public and forest management agencies, and uses a propositional analysis to guide methods for integrating citizens into adaptive management situations. Important characteristics are organized and discussed in six thematic areas. Citizen-agency interactions are more effective when (1) they are open and inclusive, (2) they are built on skilled leadership and interactive forums, (3) they include innovative and flexible methods, (4) involvement is early and continuous, (5) efforts result in action, and (6) they seek to build trust among participants. Particular attention to the situational context of actions and decisions helps to determine the relevance of adaptive management for individuals in these settings."
"Complex systems understanding implies a world characterized by dynamic, nonlinear interactions, discontinuities, and surprises. Such conditions are not amenable to conventional resource management approaches that stress command and control, and therefore, novel governance approaches more suited to complexity and uncertainty are required. Adaptive co-management has emerged as an interdisciplinary response to this need, and blends the adaptive management and collaborative management narratives. However, concepts associated with adaptive co-management are relatively new and quickly expanding from multiple perspectives. The objective of this paper is to take stock of this relatively recent concept and synthesize current thinking in terms of: (1) the core components of adaptive co-management, (2) emerging research directions, (3) the barriers to implementation of adaptive co-management, and (4) criteria for success. To explore these four areas, a three-round, classical Delphi process was administered with an expert panel of 30 individuals. All members of the expert panel initially responded to open-ended questions, and the qualitative results were analyzed using QSR NVIVO. The subsequent two rounds of the Delphi required quantitative responses in which the expert panel was asked to indicate the level of importance using a seven point likert scale associated with specific items. Results of the Delphi survey reveal a high degree of consensus on several core areas within this emerging interdisciplinary governance approach. Results of this research should foster precision with respect to employment of the term, foster scholarly discourse, and indicate areas of practical importance to adaptive co-management."
"In many cases, a predicate of adaptive environmental assessment and management (AEAM) has been a search for flexibility in management institutions, or for resilience in the ecological system prior to structuring actions that are designed for learning. Many of the observed impediments to AEAM occur when there is little or no resilience in the ecological components (e.g., when there is fear of an ecosystem shift to an unwanted stability domain), or when there is a lack of flexibility in the extant power relationships among stakeholders. In these cases, a pragmatic solution is to seek to restore resilience or flexibility rather than to pursue a course of broad-scale, active adaptive management. Restoration of resilience and flexibility may occur through novel assessments or small-scale experiments, or it may occur when an unforeseen policy crisis allows for reformation or restructuring of power relationships among stakeholders."
"Adaptive ecosystem management has been adopted as a goal for decision making by several of the land management and regulatory agencies of the U.S. government. One of the first attempts to implement ecosystem management was undertaken on the federally managed forests of the Pacific Northwest in 1994. In addition to a network of reserve areas intended to restore habitat for late-successional terrestrial and aquatic species, 'adaptive management areas' (AMAs) were established. These AMAs were intended to be focal areas for implementing innovative methods of ecological conservation and restoration and meeting economic and social goals. This paper analyzes the primary ecological, social, and institutional issues of concern to one AMA in the Coast Range in northern Oregon. Based on existing knowledge, several divergent approaches are available that could meet ecological goals, but these approaches differ greatly in their social and economic implications. In particular, approaches that rely on the natural succession of the existing landscape or attempt to recreate historical patterns may not meet ecosystem goals for restoration as readily as an approach based on the active manipulation of existing structure and composition. In addition, institutions are still adjusting to recent changes in management priorities. Although some innovative projects have been developed, adaptive management in its most rigorous sense is still in its infancy. Indeed, functional social networks that support adaptive management may be required before policy and scientific innovations can be realized. The obstacles to adaptive management in this case are similar to those encountered by other efforts of this type, but the solutions will probably have to be local and idiosyncratic to be effective."
"Waterfowl harvest management in North America, for all its success, historically has had several shortcomings, including a lack of well-defined objectives, a failure to account for uncertain management outcomes, and inefficient use of harvest regulations to understand the effects of management. To address these and other concerns, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began implementation of adaptive harvest management in 1995. Harvest policies are now developed using a Markov decision process in which there is an explicit accounting for uncontrolled environmental variation, partial controllability of harvest, and structural uncertainty in waterfowl population dynamics. Current policies are passively adaptive, in the sense that any reduction in structural uncertainty is an unplanned by-product of the regulatory process. A generalization of the Markov decision process permits the calculation of optimal actively adaptive policies, but it is not yet clear how state-specific harvest actions differ between passive and active approaches. The Markov decision process also provides managers the ability to explore optimal levels of aggregation or "management scale" for regulating harvests in a system that exhibits high temporal, spatial, and organizational variability. Progress in institutionalizing adaptive harvest management has been remarkable, but some managers still perceive the process as a panacea, while failing to appreciate the challenges presented by this more explicit and methodical approach to harvest regulation. Technical hurdles include the need to develop better linkages between population processes and the dynamics of landscapes, and to model the dynamics of structural uncertainty in a more comprehensive fashion. From an institutional perspective, agreement on how to value and allocate harvests continues to be elusive, and there is some evidence that waterfowl managers have overestimated the importance of achievement-oriented factors in setting hunting regulations. Indeed, it is these unresolved value judgements, and the lack of an effective structure for organizing debate, that present the greatest threat to adaptive harvest management as a viable means for coping with management uncertainty."