Brian Walker

Brian Walker
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation | CSIRO · Land and Water Flagship

Ph.D.

About

231
Publications
240,337
Reads
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98,092
Citations
Citations since 2016
24 Research Items
49556 Citations
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Additional affiliations
July 1985 - July 2015
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Position
  • Honorary Fellow

Publications

Publications (231)
Article
Full-text available
Transformation toward a sustainable future requires an earth stewardship approach to shift society from its current goal of increasing material wealth to a vision of sustaining built, natural, human, and social capital—equitably distributed across society, within and among nations. Widespread concern about earth’s current trajectory and support for...
Article
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The increasing frequency of extreme events, exogenous and endogenous, poses challenges for our societies. The current pandemic is a case in point; but "once-in-a-century" weather events are also becoming more common, leading to erosion, wildfire and even volcanic events that change ecosystems and disturbance regimes, threaten the sustainability of...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an interconnected and tightly coupled globalized world in rapid change. This article sets the scientific stage for understanding and responding to such change for global sustainability and resilient societies. We provide a systemic overview of the current situation where people and nature are dynamically intertwine...
Article
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Global environmental change challenges humanity because of its broad scale, long-lasting, and potentially irreversible consequences. Key to an effective response is to use an appropriate scientific lens to peer through the mist of uncertainty that threatens timely and appropriate decisions surrounding these complex issues. Identifying such corridor...
Article
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There are many calls to use the COVID 19 crisis as an opportunity for transforming to a future trajectory that is more equitable and environmentally sustainable. What is lacking is a cohesive framework for bringing these calls together. We propose that such transitions could be informed by lessons from three decades of scholarship on abrupt and sur...
Article
Climate change is reshaping the comparative advantage of regions and hence driving migration flows, principally toward urban areas. Migration has multiple benefits and costs in both origin and destination regions. Coordinated policies that recognize how and why people move can reduce future costs and facilitate adaptation to climate change both wit...
Article
Approaches to understanding resilience from psychology and sociology emphasize individuals' agency but obscure systemic factors. Approaches to understanding resilience stemming from ecology emphasize system dynamics such as feedbacks but obscure individuals. Approaches from both psychology and ecology examine the actions or attractors available in...
Article
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Article
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We consider two aspects of the human enterprise that profoundly affect the global environment: population and consumption. We show that fertility and consumption behavior harbor a class of externalities that have not been much noted in the literature. Both are driven in part by attitudes and preferences that are not egoistic but socially embedded;...
Article
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The oncoming stream of biophysical and social changes facing the rangelands calls for an innovative mix of modifying existing uses and pursuing new ones to help transition into a social-ecological system more in tune with its new environment. In the face of rising uncertainty, trying to find some particular, optimal combination of management and po...
Preprint
Approaches to understanding resilience from psychology and sociology emphasise individuals' agency but obscure systemic factors. Approaches to understanding resilience stemming from ecology emphasise system dynamics such as feedbacks but obscure individuals. Approaches from both psychology and ecology examine the actions or attractors available in...
Article
Sustainability within planetary boundaries requires concerted action by individuals, governments, civil society and private actors. For the private sector, there is concern that the power exercised by transnational corporations generates, and is even central to, global environmental change. Here, we ask under which conditions transnational corporat...
Book
Floods, fires, famines, epidemics and disasters of all kinds are on the increase, and as their frequency rises so does the call for greater resilience. But what does that mean? The word is used differently in psychology, ecology, economics and engineering and runs the risk of becoming meaningless jargon. This would be most unfortunate because, if w...
Technical Report
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The global changes that we face are rapid, novel, interacting and cumulative – we are operating in uncharted territory and that means that there are no ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions. There is an urgent need to understand, design and effectively implement interventions to guide social-ecological systems along sustainable paths into the future. The magni...
Chapter
WE LIVE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES. As the human population grows, the variety of life declines, ice caps shrink, and our Earth system behaves in ways its species have never experienced. The past no longer provides us with a guide to how the future will behave, and we search for solutions while moving into an increasingly uncertain space. In such a time, r...
Article
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Climate change, biodiversity loss, antibiotic resistance, and other global challenges pose major collective action problems: A group benefits from a certain action, but no individual has sufficient incentive to act alone. Formal institutions, e.g., laws and treaties, have helped address issues like ozone depletion, lead pollution, and acid rain. Ho...
Article
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Climate change and its interactions with complex socioeconomic dynamics dictate the need for decision makers to move from incremental adaptation toward transformation as societies try to cope with unprecedented and uncertain change. Developing pathways toward transformation is especially difficult in regions with multiple contested resource uses an...
Technical Report
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RAPTA is a unique tool to help project designers and planners build the ideas of resilience, adaptation and transformation into their projects from the start, to ensure outcomes that are practicable, valuable and sustainable through time and change. This report offers practical advice to planners, project managers, policy makers, donors, farmers, r...
Article
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Recent global crises reveal an emerging pattern of causation that could increasingly characterize the birth and progress of future global crises. A conceptual framework identifies this pattern's deep causes, intermediate processes, and ultimate outcomes. The framework shows how multiple stresses can interact within a single social-ecological system...
Article
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Although some ecosystem responses to climate change are gradual, many ecosystems react in highly nonlinear ways. They show little response until a threshold or tipping point is reached where even a small perturbation may trigger collapse into a state from which recovery is difficult (1). Increasing evidence shows that the critical climate level for...
Conference Paper
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Understanding resilience, adaptation and transformation of agroecosystems is critical to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals related to food security, land degradation neutrality and climate change adaptation. › A sound conceptual basis is required for development of effective policy deliver global environmental benefits, and support the sust...
Article
As both the societies and the world in which we live face increasingly rapid and turbulent changes, the concept of resilience has become an active and important research area. Reflecting the very latest research, this book provides a critical review of the ways in which resilience of social-ecological systems, and the ecosystem services they provid...
Article
Full-text available
Recent global crises reveal an emerging pattern of causation that could increasingly characterize the birth and progress of future global crises. A conceptual framework identifies this pattern’s deep causes, intermediate processes, and ultimate outcomes. The framework shows how multiple stresses can interact within a single social-ecological system...
Article
Full-text available
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector and continues to expand alongside terrestrial crop and livestock production. Using portfolio theory as a conceptual framework, we explore how current interconnections between the aquaculture, crop, livestock, and fisheries sectors act as an impediment to, or an opportunity for, enhanced resilience in t...
Article
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Natural resource management (NRM) organizations are increasingly looking to resilience thinking to provide insights into how social and environmental systems interact and to identify points of intervention. Drawing on complex systems analysis, resilience thinking emphasizes that landscapes constantly change from social and ecological interactions,...
Article
Life on Earth has repeatedly displayed abrupt and massive changes in the past, and there is no reason to expect that comparable planetary-scale regime shifts will not continue in the future. Different lines of evidence indicate that regime shifts occur when the climate or biosphere transgresses a tipping point. Whether human activities will trigger...
Article
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Globalization, the process by which local social-ecological systems (SESs) are becoming linked in a global network, presents policy scientists and practitioners with unique and difficult challenges. Although local SESs can be extremely complex, when they become more tightly linked in the global system, complexity increases very rapidly as multi-sca...
Article
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Systems linking people and nature, known as social-ecological systems, are increasingly understood as complex adaptive systems. Essential features of these complex adaptive systems – such as nonlinear feedbacks, strategic interactions, individual and spatial heterogeneity, and varying time scales – pose substantial challenges for modeling. However,...
Article
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State-and-transition language for ecosystem dynamics was articulated in a 1989 paper written by Imanuel Noy-Meir in collaboration with Westoby and Walker. That paper has been surprisingly influential considering that the publication it appeared in, Journal of Range Management, serves a relatively small community of researchers. Here we trace the wi...
Article
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A difficulty in measuring sustainable development is integrating measures of its key components (environment, economic, and social) in a way that allows comparison and assessment of tradeoffs and communication of results. This article presents a trial implementation of a sustainability measure called Inclusive Wealth. We do this by constructing an...
Article
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Resilience to specified kinds of disasters is an active area of research and practice. However, rare or unprecedented disturbances that are unusually intense or extensive require a more broad-spectrum type of resilience. General resilience is the capacity of social-ecological systems to adapt or transform in response to unfamiliar, unexpected and e...
Article
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Different uses of the terms "drivers," "variables," and "shocks" cause confusion in the literature and in discussions on the dynamics of ecosystems and social-ecological systems. Three main sources of confusion are unclear definition of the system, unclear definition of the role of people, and confusion between variables and drivers. As a contribut...
Article
Management studies on corporate sustainability practices have grown considerably. The field now has significant knowledge of sustainability issues that are firm and industry focused. However, complex ecological problems are increasing, not decreasing. In this paper, we argue that it is time for corporate sustainability scholars to reconsider the ec...
Book
Resilience Thinking, published by Island Press in 2006, addressed an essential question: As the natural systems that sustain us are subjected to shock after shock, how much can they take and still deliver the services we need from them? Resilience Practice takes the notion of resilience one step further, applying resilience ideas to real-world situ...
Chapter
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We assume that sustainable and equitable futures require non-declining human wellbeing built upon a diverse wealth base, including natural, human, built, social and knowledge capital. We hypothesise that human wellbeing is linked to this wealth base via social-ecological interactions: systems of biophysical processes transforming and transporting m...
Chapter
There are any number of ways of putting resilience science into practice, and it needs to be said at the outset that following strict recipes and prescriptions simply isn’t appropriate. Working with resilience requires you to constantly reflect on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And once an assessment of resilience is done, you are encou...
Chapter
Aresilience assessment begins by bringing together the stakeholders—the people with an interest or a stake in the system. Many people find the term stakeholders a bit repellent because it arose out of management speak, but we can’t think of a better one. The first stage is to work with these stakeholders to determine what the components are that ma...
Chapter
Rangelands are places where humans graze animals for meat and fiber. At their simplest, they can be pictured as expanses of grassy woodlands or grasslands with shrubs, managed by pastoralists who graze animals on them. They are a foreign world to your average city slicker, but rangelands supply an important proportion of the world’s protein (especi...
Chapter
Given what you’ve learned about the system, given your assessment of real or suspected thresholds, the system’s general coping ability, and capacity for transformation—so what? What should you do about it, and what options are available to meet these concerns?
Chapter
The swampy wetlands of the world have played important roles in human history. The presence of water made them favored places for animals and people alike, and they have long histories of human use and manipulation. And it’s the manipulation that is of interest from a resilience perspective, since it has invariably resulted in unintended secondary...
Chapter
There are somewhere between 50 and 150 million people in the world who make their living through small-scale fisheries operating in coastal waters. They catch fish and harvest other marine resources, using all kinds of innovative methods. Unfortunately, despite their ingenuity, many of these operations are suffering from “the tragedy of the commons...
Chapter
At first glance the acequia farmers in New Mexico and the subak rice growers of Bali don’t have much in common beyond the fact that they both use irrigation in their farming enterprise (see images 3 and 4). They produce different crops in dramatically different environments using different traditions. However, dig a little deeper and it’s clear the...
Chapter
Depending on who you talk to, resilience can mean a number of things. As discussed in the introductory chapter, the four main origins of the concept lie in the fields of engineering, ecology/biology, psychology, and defense/security. Organizational resilience is now also a growing field, and it draws on the ideas developed by the other four. Resili...
Chapter
Having developed an agreed-on description of the system, the next step is to assess its resilience. The process here is not feeding your description into some formula. Resilience is not a single number or a result. It’s an emergent property that applies in different ways and in the different domains that make up your system. It is contextual and it...
Chapter
What does resilience mean when applied at the planetary scale? Our planet as a global system has changed quite a bit over the last ten thousand years, but when viewed on geological time scales it has been very stable during this period, a time known as the Holocene. Indeed, despite some changes it’s had the same identity.
Chapter
In many places around the world resilience is appearing in policy and mission statements. In New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, for example, the goal for natural resource management is “resilient, ecologically sustainable landscapes functioning effectively at all scales and supporting the environmental, economic, social and cultural values of comm...
Article
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Early efforts in wildlifemanagement focused on reducing population variability and maximizing yields of selected species. Later, Aldo Leopold proposed the concept of habitat management as superior to population management, and more recently, ecosystem management, whereby ecological processes are conserved or mimicked, has come into favour. Managing...
Article
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Humanity has emerged as a major force in the operation of the biosphere, with a significant imprint on the Earth System, challenging social–ecological resilience. This new situation calls for a fundamental shift in perspectives, world views, and institutions. Human development and progress must be reconnected to the capacity of the biosphere and es...
Article
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The optimal mix of biodiversity in semi-arid rangelands depends on the relative value of directly exploited species. Demand for directly exploited species then gives rise to derived demand for habitat. The paper seeks to model the decision problem that lies behind the optimal mix of species, including discrete irregular decisions that may involve s...
Article
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Unsustainable fishing simplifies food chains and, as with aquaculture, can result in reliance on a few economically valuable species. This lack of diversity may increase risks of ecological and economic disruptions. Centuries of intense fishing have extirpated most apex predators in the Gulf of Maine (United States and Canada), effectively creating...
Chapter
The savanna biome is defined here, following (1982), as those regions of the world characterized by: (1) a strongly seasonal climate with hot or warm wet summers and cool dry winters, and (2) a mixed life-form vegetation in which both woody and herbaceous plants play a significant ecological role. In tropical and subtropical savannas the herbaceous...
Article
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We present some insights on the use and interpretation of resilience ideas that arose in a conference on "Society's Resilience in Withstanding Disaster." Three points in particular have relevance for those interested in resilience in social-ecological systems: (1) Time as a threshold vs. avoiding quick fixes; (2) Trading risks: specified vs. genera...
Article
Wetland vegetation in the aspen grove and grassland regions of Saskatchewan was examined with respect to vegetation types and environmental control of species distribution. Species frequency and presence and a number of environmental gradients were measured in 246 stands. Association analysis of the vegetation data resulted in 27 vegetation groups,...
Article
This study examined the relationships between the distribution of herbaceous species and some of the major environmental factors in sloughs. Frequency distribution of species was studied in 64 stands. Environmental data, collected in 40 of these, included weekly readings of water level, fortnightly readings of pH and total dissolved solids in water...
Article
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Resilience thinking addresses the dynamics and development of complex social–ecological systems (SES). Three aspects are central: resilience, adaptability and transformability. These aspects interrelate across multiple scales. Resilience in this context is the capacity of a SES to continually change and adapt yet remain within critical thresholds....
Article
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Resilience and vulnerability represent two related yet different approaches to understanding the response of systems and actors to change; to shocks and surprises, as well as slow creeping changes. Their respective origins in ecological and social theory largely explain the continuing differences in approach to social-ecological dimensions of chang...
Article
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"In this introductory essay, we synthesize some lessons from integrated conservation-development initiatives in developing countries, drawing particularly on the case study material in this special issue. There is an emerging consensus that at the heart of achieving positive outcomes are a core of institutional issues involving landscape governance...
Article
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Productivity enhancement has traditionally been the main focus of agricultural research to alleviate poverty and enhance food security of poor farmers in the developing world. Recently, the harmful impact of climate change, economic volatility, and other external shocks on poor farmers has led to concern that resilience should feature alongside pro...