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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, author of "Fragile Dominion"
"We denizens of the early twenty-first century have urgent need for an integrative theory that links changes in our global environment to underlying causes. Panarchy is the best presentation I've seen of the elements of such a theory, considering everything from ecosystems to political action. Anyone desiring a serious understanding of our global environment—and that should be all of us—will find no better starting point for their quest."
John Holland, Professor of computer science and engineering and Professor of psychology, University of Michigan
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
This Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fun for Island Press authors to share the love. We asked a few authors to choose their favorite Island Press book—other than their own, of course—and explain what makes it so special. Check out their responses below, and use code 4MAGICAL for 25% off and free shipping all of the books below, as well as books from participating authors.
What’s your favorite Island Press book? Share your answer in the comments.
My favorite IP book—not that I’ve read them all—is Mike Lydon’s Tactical Urbanism. This book shows how ad hoc interventions can improve the public realm, especially if they’re later made permanent. I discussed the concept on the latest Spokesmen podcast with architect Jason Fertig and illustrator Bekka “Bikeyface” Wright, both of Boston.
Last year I wrote a cover story for SIERRA magazine about how Donald Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexico border would all but eliminate any chance for recovering jaguar species in the Southwest. In the course of my research I came across Alan Rabinowitz's An Indomitable Beast. It's a great read, blending Rabinowitz's own experiences as a big cat biologist with cutting-edge findings on this amazing species. As a writer, this book and its amazing details helped me bring the jaguar to life for readers.
This day is a time for reaching beyond data and logic to think about deeper ways of knowing. Love, specifically, but I would add to that faith, tradition and ethics. That's why I love Aaron Wolf's new book, The Spirit of Dialogue: Lessons from Faith Traditions in Transforming Conflict. Going beyond the mechanical "rationality" of the typical public meeting is necessary if we are to address the big issues of global sustainability and the smaller issues of how we sustain our local communities. Aaron Wolf provides the experience, tools and promise of a better, deeper approach.
Like many others, I am indebted to to Island Press for not one but three books that profoundly influenced my thinking. Panarchy (2001, edited by Lance Gunderson and C.S. Holling) introduced me to the concept of socio-ecological systems resilience. Resilience Thinking (2006, by Brian Walker and David Salt) taught me what systems resilience really means. And the follow-up book Resilience Practice (2012) helped me start to understand how systems resilience actually works. The latter remains the most-consulted book on my shelf—by Island Press or any other publisher—and I was thrilled and frankly humbled when Brian and David agreed to write a chapter for our own contribution to the field, The Community Resilience Reader (2017).
"A large percentage of my urbanism bookshelf is comprised of Island Press books, so it's very difficult to share my love for just one! So, I won't because the books we pull of the shelf most often these days are the NACTO Design Guides. Finally, a near complete set of highly usable and mutually supportive design standards that help us advocate for and build better streets, better places."
Nicols Fox's Against the Machine is a book that’s becomes more relevant each year as technology impinges ever further on our daily lives. It’s a fascinating, deeply researched look at how and why people have resisted being treated as extensions of machines.
Lake Effect by Nancy Nichols. I read this book several years ago. It is so important to hear the voices of those whose lives are impacted by industrial age pollutants, lest we slide into complacency. In this case, the story of the chemicals of Lake Michigan. It is a short, beautifully written, disturbing read.
—Emily Monosson, Natural Defense and Unnatural Selection
Peter Gleick’s series, The World’s Water, is one of the most useful surveys of the cutting edge of global waters there is. Each edition brings in-depth coverage of the issues of the day, always eminently readable and backed up by the crack research team that he puts together for each topic. I use it in my classes, always confident that students (and I) will be kept abreast of the best of The World’s Water.
—Aaron Wolf, The Spirit of Dialogue
Mark Jerome Walters' important book, Seven Modern Plagues, places great emphasis on linking emerging diseases with habitat destruction and other forms of modification natural processes. This book is a call for us to recognize that each new disease reflects an environmental warning.
—Andy Dyer, Chasing the Red Queen
My favorite Island Press book is The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, and the Community of Life, edited by Eric T. Freyfogle. Perhaps it remains my favorite IP text because it is the first IP text I remember reading front to back, twice! I first encountered the book as a graduate student and was struck my its scope and tone. The book is thought provoking. But it's also a joy to read, which isn't surprising in hindsight given the award-winning contributors.
—Michael Carolan, No One Eats Alone
Don't see your Island Press fave? Share it in the comments below!
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.