Resilience and sustainability of landscapes

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Resilience and Sustainability of Landscapes Louis Lebel Faculty of Social Sciences Chiang Mai University And Resilience Alliance ASB-SLUM Symposium on Bringing the landscape into focus Chiang Mai 12-14 November 2001


Outline Resilience and thresholds Ecological memory in landscapes Cross-scale interaction and biodiversity Framework for analysis of linked socio-ecological systems Adaptive cycle and surprises Explore concepts and theories about resilience and sustainability for thinking about livelihoods and ecosystems in landscapes.


Resilience Resilience is the potential of a particular configuration of a system to maintain its structure/function in the face of disturbance, and the ability of the system to re-organize following disturbance-driven change. measured by size of stability domain

Alternative States: 

Alternative States Wool production from grazing vs. woody biomass Lake services (fish, recreation) vs. Phosphorus in sediments from agricultural run-off Forest services (non-timber products, watershed, timber) vs. tree-less grassland/crop cover Recovery rate of fragments vs. plantation/crop/urban cover of landscape Ecosystem Service as Function of State Critical Threshold Critical slow variables and their socio-economic and physical drivers

Memory in landscapes: 

Memory in landscapes Landscape is templet for ecological and social memory: post-disturbance Re-organization / establishment trees from seed banks or of land-use or cultural practices from un-affected individuals/village institutions Cross-scale: landscape to patch Biodiversity important for ecosystem functions Maintenance through redundancy Novel opportunities through portfolio effects

Ecological Memory: 

Ecological Memory After Nystrom & Folke 2001 Supporting Landscape Disturbed patch/unit Active mobile links (birds, herbivorous insects and mamals) Legacies living and dead (re-sprouting stumps, seed banks, logs, terraces) Passive mobile links (eg windblown seed) Diversity within and among functional groups (keystone, structural spp)

Biodiversity and functions in landscapes: 

Biodiversity and functions in landscapes Redundancy - loss of individual species compensated for by others performing similar functions Portfolio effect – higher biodiversity implies greater change that at least some players can cope and exploit new environment following major disturbances/surprises Analogies with land-use systems rather than species as units

Diversity and scales: 

Diversity and scales After Peterson, Allen & Holling 1998

Stability and Diversity: 

Stability and Diversity After Peterson, Allen & Holling 1998

Measuring landscape resilience: 

Measuring landscape resilience Bifurcation analysis of very simple dynamic models if have good understanding of transition probabilities can explore consequences of different management regimes with simulations (resilience = prob. of persistence) Analyse landscape pattern to find edges (ecotones) where change is most likely (ie. Resilience lowest) – cross-scale edge algorithm

Resilience of what to what?: 

Resilience of what to what? What systems? Ecosystem Social System Functional Linkages Which disturbances? Surprises/shocks Cumulative change and thresholds From outside and from within Which direction ? Scenarios because large and multiple uncertainties Culturally and ecologically sensitive tourist based economy Active rural maintenance in a mixed economy Resilience as metaphor also useful tool

Framework for resilience analysis: 

Framework for resilience analysis Phase 1 Conceptual models of system Historical development Processes affecting delivery/maintenance of key ecosystem goods and services Phase 2 Disturbances and adaptive cycle Visions -> scenarios After Walker et al. 2001

Adaptive Cycle as a Tool: 

Adaptive Cycle as a Tool Draws attention to shorter, but critical release and reorganization phases Tool for thinking about systems starting with premise that disturbance and change are normal (rather than seeking to predict or find optimal or final stable states)

Start with history: 

Start with history Example, Northern Thailand

Human Behaviour: 

Human Behaviour Foresight can reduce boom-bust character of cycles Learn and communicate ideas and experience -> cultural myths and institutions Technology amplifies human actions Opportuntities for building adaptive capacity and resilience - fostering invention and creating opportunities, but not overwhelming system with tests, managing for unpredictability and surprise;

Sustainable Livelihoods: 

Sustainable Livelihoods “The capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, while not undermining the natural resource base.” (Chamber & Conway 1992) Well-suited to resilience-style thinking

Livelihoods Framework: 

Livelihoods Framework Modified after Batterbury & Forsyth 1999

Disturbance Events and Cumulative Change: 

Disturbance Events and Cumulative Change Internal and External Events Climate-related events interacting with other processes, eg fires Market: business cycle, comparative advantage shifts Political: local and international (security) Are there critical thresholds in these trends? What are the rates of these changes (years, decades) and is there a system to monitor/detect/or respond ? Do they differ with place in the landscape ? Cumulative changes Demographic from urbanization and fertility transition Rising water demand (irrigation-urban) Increasing air pollution (biomass burning and urban activities) Integration into regional and global markets <-> Localization/decentralization <-> Disturbance as editor of memory (Changed) disturbance regimes + novel human disturbances + altered system resilience

Adaptive Cycle as a Tool: 

Adaptive Cycle as a Tool Example, today in Ping River Basin, N. Thailand Reorganization Political systems Late Conservation ? Irrigation management Forest management and institutions Growth Urban Chiang Mai Release Declining rural towns different sub-systems change at different rates (institutions, ecosystems) different sub-systems are often not-in the same phase alignments of reorganizaton phases are windows of opportunity for creative change and often require different types and methods of management


Scenarios Scenarios are a crucial tool for thinking about fundamental uncertainties. Identify key gradients or axes which would differentiate the various alternative future states of the system Consequences of spatial patterns of development often key component of regional scenarios

Framework for resilience analysis: 

Framework for resilience analysis After Walker et al. 2001 Phase 3 Iterative: how will system respond under various scenarios Explorations with simple models of underlying dynamics, non-linearities, thresholds Adaptive capacity – foresight – behavioural feedbacks

Resilience and Adaptive Cycle: 

Resilience and Adaptive Cycle Peterson 2000


Panarchy Multiple adaptive cycles at various spatial scales and rates From Holling 2001. Dynamic view of hierarchies Larger, slower cycles constrain changes in smaller, faster cycles But, innovations in smaller can trigger changes in larger remebrance revolt


Sustainability release Conservation Stability Creating novelty Testing innovations TENSION Re-organization Within-level remembrance revolt


Conclusions The sustainability of a landscape does not depend on a set of static quantities, or finding some optimal mixture or configuration of ideal land-uses. It is the much more dynamic quality of maintaining adaptive capacity and opportunities. The capacity to adapt is crucial because the real world is full of surprises or disturbances and longer-term structural transformations that will test any solution posed for it. Resilience is a key concept for thinking about livelihoods and ecosystems in landscapes. Loss of resilience increase risk of loss of goods and services. A focus on landscapes is timely, but challenging, as it underlines the need to consider processes at multiple spatial scales with the likelihood of cross-scale interactions.

Alice in Wonderland: 

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" asked Alice. "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cheshire Cat. "I don't much care where" said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cheshire Cat. "---so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that", said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough." Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. "What sort of people live about here?" "In that direction", the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives the Hatter: and in that direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad." "But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be, said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here.“ (From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll) Alice in Wonderland

Resilience Alliance: 

Resilience Alliance Theory work Network of case studies Opportunities in N. Thailand (Ping River Basin) Resilience Alliance– includes summaries of projects and detailed technical reports Conservation Ecology – On-line Journal of the Resilience Alliance Resilience – educational website

Further Reading: 

Further Reading Holling CS. 2001. Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological, and social systems. Ecosystems 4:390-405. Peterson G. 2000. Political ecology and ecological resilience: an integration of human and ecological dynamics. Ecological Economics 35:323-336. Adger WN. 2000. Social and ecological resilience: are they related. Progress in Human Geography 24347-364. Carpenter SR. 2000. Alternate states of ecosystems: evidence and some implications. Pages 357-382 in Press MC, Huntly NJ, Levin S (eds) Ecology: achievement and challenge. Blackwell Science: New York. Nystrom M, Folke C. 2001. Spatial resilience of coral reefs. Ecosystems 4:406-417. Peterson G, Allen CR, Holling CS. 1998. Ecological resilience, biodiversity, and scale. Ecosystems 1:6-18. Various articles: Berkes F. 2001. Cross-scale institutional linkages: perspectives from the bottom up. In: Ostrom E, Dietz T, Dosak N, Stern PC, Stonich S, Weber EU. (Eds) The drama of the Commons. National Academy Press: Washington DC. Batterbury S, Forsyth T. 1999. Fighting back: human adaptation in marginal environments. Environment 41(6):6-11, 25-30. Adger, W.N., 2000, Social and ecological resilience: are they related? Progress in Human Geographer, 24(3), 347-364. Berkes, F, Folke C. 1998. (Ed) Linking social and ecological systems: management practices and social mechanisms for building resilience. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Chambers R, Conway G. 1992. Sustainable rural livelihoods: pratical concepts for the 21st century. IDS Discussion Paper 296. Institute of Development Studies: Brighton, United Kingdom.

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