Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World

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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 ...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Planning Magazine

"This is one of those books that barely mentions planning as such, but has lots of implications for it. It's short but will repay some extra quiet time...Their goal is to get us to look at the world and its systems in a fresh new way."

Planning Magazine

"This is one of those books that barely mentions planning as such, but has lots of implications for it. It's short but will repay some extra quiet time...Their goal is to get us to look at the world and its systems in a fresh new way."
Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology, Stanford University - Harold Mooney
"Resilience Thinking is an impressive and highly successful effort to explain complex ecological and social interactions and changes in a unified framework and in language accessible to a wide audience. This book should stimulate extensive discussions on these critical issues and innovative ways to approach them."
Distinguished Professor of Zoology, Oregon State University - Jane Lubchenco
"Resilience Thinking provides a much-needed accessible entrée into a concept that holds the key to our future.... Full of wisdom, sophisticated science, and practical guidance, this book provides profound ideas, insights, and hope to scientists, students, managers, and planners alike."
Professor of political science, University of Toronto - Thomas Homer-Dixon
"Resilience Thinking is an essential guidebook to a powerful new way of understanding our world—and of living resiliently within it—developed in recent decades by an international team of ecologists. With five clear and compelling case studies drawn from regions as diverse as Florida, Sweden, and Australia, this book shows how all highly adaptive systems—from ecologies to economies—go through regular cycles of growth, reorganization, and renewal and how our failures to understand the basic principles of resilience have often led to disaster. Resilience Thinking gives us the conceptual tools to help us cope with the bewildering surprises and challenges of our new century."
GreenSpirit
"...a clear, readable, non-academic explanation of the difference between an optimization mindset and a resilience mindset."
Planning
"This is one of those books that barely mentions planning as such, but has lots of implications for it. It's short but will repay some extra quiet time...Their goal is to get us to look at the world and its systems in a fresh new way."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597260923
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 8/14/2006
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Walker is a Research Fellow in Australia’s CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Visiting Researcher in the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Chair of the Resilience Alliance. 
 
 David Salt is a science and environment writer at the Australian National University, and has more than two decades experience writing and producing popular science magazines and books. 
 
 Both authors live in Canberra, Australia.

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Table of Contents

1 Living in a complex world : an introduciton to resilience thinking 1
Case study 1 : carving up a national icon : the Florida Everglades 15
2 The system rules : creating a mind space for resilience thinking 28
Case study 2 : between a (salt) rock and a hard place : the Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia 39
3 Crossing the threshold : be careful about the path you choose - you may not be able to return 53
Case study 3 : losing the jewel in the crown : the coral reefs in the Caribbean 64
4 In the loop : phases, cycles, and scales - adaptive cycles and how systems change 74
Case study 4 : scenarios on the lakes : the Northern Highlands Lake District, Wisconsin 96
5 Making sense of resilience : how do you apply resilience thinking? 111
Case study 5 : building resilience in the wetlands : the Kristianstads Vattenrike, Sweden 125
6 Creating space in a shrinking world : resilience and sustainability 139
Postscript for a resilient world 153
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