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All Ebook Formats $49.99 ISBN: 9781597269391 Published December 2001
Paperback $50.00 ISBN: 9781559638579 Published December 2001


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Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems

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Edited by Lance H. Gunderson and C. S. Holling

536 pages | 6 x 9

Creating institutions to meet the challenge of sustainability is arguably the most important task confronting society; it is also dauntingly complex. Ecological, economic, and social elements all play a role, but despite ongoing efforts, researchers have yet to succeed in integrating the various disciplines in a way that gives adequate representation to the insights of each.

Panarchy, a term devised to describe evolving hierarchical systems with multiple interrelated elements, offers an important new framework for understanding and resolving this dilemma. Panarchy is the structure in which systems, including those of nature (e.g., forests) and of humans (e.g., capitalism), as well as combined human-natural systems (e.g., institutions that govern natural resource use such as the Forest Service), are interlinked in continual adaptive cycles of growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal. These transformational cycles take place at scales ranging from a drop of water to the biosphere, over periods from days to geologic epochs. By understanding these cycles and their scales, researchers can identify the points at which a system is capable of accepting positive change, and can use those leverage points to foster resilience and sustainability within the system.

This volume brings together leading thinkers on the subject -- including Fikret Berkes, Buz Brock, Steve Carpenter, Carl Folke, Lance Gunderson, C.S. Holling, Don Ludwig, Karl-Goran Maler, Charles Perrings, Marten Scheffer, Brian Walker, and Frances Westley -- to develop and examine the concept of panarchy and to consider how it can be applied to human, natural, and human-natural systems. Throughout, contributors seek to identify adaptive approaches to management that recognize uncertainty and encourage innovation while fostering resilience.

The book is a fundamental new development in a widely acclaimed line of inquiry. It represents the first step in integrating disciplinary knowledge for the adaptive management of human-natural systems across widely divergent scales, and offers an important base of knowledge from which institutions for adaptive management can be developed. It will be an invaluable source of ideas and understanding for students, researchers, and professionals involved with ecology, conservation biology, ecological economics, environmental policy, or related fields.

"Resilience, timing, adaptation—these are the three pillars upon which the emergent properties of interacting systems rest. When the systems are the economy and the environment, understanding of the relationships among these concepts is crucial. This volume does a better job of explaining how to manage both money and nature to ensure humanity's long-term future than any other work I know of. Read and reflect."
John L. Casti, Santa Fe Institute, United States, and Technical University of Vienna, Austria

"A wonderful and stimulating blend of theoretical and empirical perspectives on multiscale dynamic systems of humans and nature. This book brings together the diverse insights of some of the most creative and original thinkers on resilience and adaptive change in ecological and social systems, yet it is seamlessly integrated through coherent underlying principles. A triumph for Holling's seminal concepts, and for the Resilience Alliance."
Simon Levin, Princeton University

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Boxes
Part I. Introduction
Chapter 1. In Quest of a Theory of Adaptive Change
Part II. Theories of Change
Chapter 2. Resilience and Adaptive Cycles
Chapter 3. Sustainability and Panarchies
Chapter 4. Why Systems of People and Nature Are Not Just Social and Ecological Systems
Chapter 5. Back to the Future: Ecosystem Dynamics and Local Knowledge
Chapter 6. The Dynamics of Political Discourse in Seeking Sustainability
Part III. Myths, Models, and Metaphors
Chapter 7. Collapse, Learning, and Renewal
Chapter 8. Dynamic Interaction of Societies and Ecosystems-Linking Theories from Ecology, Economy, and Sociology
Chapter 9. A Future of Surprises
Chapter 10. Resilience and Sustainability: The Economic Analysis of Nonlinear Dynamic Systems
Part IV. Linking Theory to Practice
Chapter 11. Resilient Rangelands-Adaptation in Complex Systems
Chapter 12. Surprises and Sustainability: Cycles of Renewal in the Everglades
Chapter 13. The Devil in the Dynamics: Adaptive Management on the Front Lines
Chapter 14. Planning for Resilience: Scenarios, Surprises, and Branch Points
Part V. Summary and Synthesis
Chapter 15. Discoveries for Sustainable Futures
Chapter 16. Toward an Integrative Synthesis
Appendix A. A Model for Ecosystems with Alternative Stable States
Appendix B. Optimizing Social Utility from Lake Use
Appendix C. Tax as a Way to Direct Society
Appendix D. Collective Action Problems and Their Effect on Political Power
List of Contributors
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