6 x 9
10 tables, 12 illustrations
6 x 9
10 tables, 12 illustrations
In 2006, Resilience Thinking 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? This idea caught the attention of both the scientific community and the general public.
In Resilience Practice, authors Brian Walker and David Salt take the notion of resilience one step further, applying resilience thinking to real-world situations and exploring how systems can be managed to promote and sustain resilience.
The book begins with an overview and introduction to resilience thinking and then takes the reader through the process of describing systems, assessing their resilience, and intervening as appropriate. Following each chapter is a case study of a different type of social-ecological system and how resilience makes a difference to that system in practice. The final chapters explore resilience in other arenas, including on a global scale.
Resilience Practice will help people with an interest in the “coping capacity” of systems—from farms and catchments to regions and nations—to better understand how resilience thinking can be put into practice. It offers an easy-to-read but scientifically robust guide through the real-world application of the concept of resilience and is a must read for anyone concerned with the management of systems at any scale.
"Brian Walker and David Salt have written a thoughtful and powerful book to help resource users and managers put resilience thinking into practice and aim toward increasing the sustainability of our world. I urge public officials, scholars, and students in public policy programs to place this volume on their list of must-read books. It is a powerful antidote to the overly simplified proposals too often offered as solutions to contemporary problems at multiple scales."
Elinor Ostrom, Senior Research Director, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
"Since publication of the neat little classic Resilience Thinking in 2006, the core ideas of resilience have escaped most deliciously to seed thinking everywhere about moving beyond the linear paradigms that so often drive system breakdowns and crises. With Resilience Practice, Walker and Salt passionately extend their practical wisdom while ensuring that the rigorous tools people need to deploy resilience theory are not lost to colloquial useage."
Ken Wilson, Executive Director, The Christensen Fund
"Resilience is an important concept for managing Earth's life support systems. Yet practitioners complain that 'everyone talks about resilience, but no one knows how to manage it.' Walker and Salt provide a practical guide written in clear, simple language, with a rich endowment of examples. This is the most important book of the year for environmental managers and scientists."
Stephen R. Carpenter, Director and Professor, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"This was the answer I was looking for... This book is heavy on procedure and questions, both of which can be helpful to planners and managers for whom resilience planning is new territory."
Natural Areas Journal
"Resilience Practice emerges as a readable, friendly guide to planetary preservation, intended to foster hope and corrective action in order to improve future prospects for a human-friendly Earth."
"...a classical handbook in resilience practice. You need considerable time to reflect on many of the issues addressed, but in this sense the book will have a long and active life on the bookshelf—the best sign of a useful handbook."
Chapter 1. Preparing for Practice: The Essence of Resilience Thinking
-Case Study 1: Thresholds on a Range: A Safe Operating Space for Grazing Enterprises
Chapter 2. Describing the System
-Case Study 2: From Taos to Bali and Sri Lanka: Traditional Irrigation at the Crossroads
Chapter 3. Assessing Resilience
-Case Study 3: Assessing Resilience for "the Plan": The Namoi and Central West Catchment Management Authorities
Chapter 4. Managing Resilience
-Case Study 4: People and Pen Shells, Marine Parks and Rules: Why Governance Is Central to the Resilience of Coastal Fisheries
Chapter 5. Practicing Resilience in Different Ways
-Case Study 5: Out of the Swamp: Lessons from Big Wetlands
Chapter 6. A Resilient World
Postscript: A View from the Northwest Passage
About the Authors
A few weeks ago the world learnt of the disappearance of the Bramble Cay melomys, a small Australian rodent only known to occur on a tiny coral cay off the northern tip of Australia. The finding is noted in a government report that documents how a comprehensive search for the species in 2014 had failed to detect a single animal.
The report’s authors state that the population had “almost certainly” disappeared because its habitat had been destroyed by the ocean stripping vegetation from the low-lying cay. Indeed, so close to sea level is the tiny island that it probably provided little refuge to the melomys from big weather events. The authors even suggested ocean inundation could have directly killed or carried away individual animals! It’s a tragic situation to contemplate, the final specimen of a species being washed away by a rising sea.
Thousands of species around the world are on the lip of extinction but the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys is particularly poignant in that human-induced climate change has been identified as the root cause of its demise. Sea-level rise and increased frequency and intensity of weather events have been noted as the cause of the loss of its island home.
The loss of a species of island rat does not overly concern everyone, something that is clear if you peruse the discussion threads following some of the articles on this event (for example, see Nature and The Washington Post) and many simply deny the existence of climate change (read those same discussion threads). And yet the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys should be ringing alarm bells everywhere. It’s a symbol of clear and present danger, an example of irreversible consequence and a portent of things to come.
The Bramble Cay melomys has crossed an irreversible threshold. It’s gone with no possibility of return. And with its passing, the system it was a part of has lost a natural component making it less able to cope with change and disturbance; such is the consequence of biodiversity loss.
Scientists across multiple disciplines have identified what they believe is a ‘safe’ level of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere. It is 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide. This year we crossed 400 ppm. The consequences of transgressing this ‘planetary boundary’ is climate change, rising sea levels and more extreme weather events. This increase in disturbance threatens to overwhelm the resilience of many species, especially those living in low areas, and the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys is but the start of this process.
Given the already devastating change to Bramble Cay it’s unlikely that the loss of melomys will have any effects on what’s left of its ecosystem. However, in more-or-less intact ecosystems the loss of species serves to erode the system’s resilience to climate change. It’s a synergistic set of secondary feedback effects making things progressively worse. Biodiversity loss makes us more vulnerable to climate change, less able to absorb the disruption it brings.
Resilience thinking helps us engage with the complexity of the world, guiding our management of ecosystems. Part of that complexity is the strength of policy feedbacks to change. Some have suggested we should have moved the last Bramble Cay melomys to some safe harbor before they were swallowed by the hungry sea. And, indeed, we should have; we’ve known they were at risk for many years. That we didn’t suggests our feedback to the challenge of climate change are inappropriate. They need to be tighter. In this case it’s resulted in the irreversible loss of a mammal species. And maybe we should seeing this rodent as a canary in the coalmine.