Resilient scientists

I don’t know enough about resilience science, only that I would like to know more. A large body of knowledge has built up around the ideas associated with C.S. “Buzz” Holling that, as far as I can tell, focuses on the system in ecosystems. There’s a Resilience Alliance blog that we have linked to before, and where I learned about the launch of a wiki version of the key document Assessing and Managing Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems: A Practitioner’s Handbook.

The practitioners in question do indeed discuss agricultural systems from time to time, but I have neither the time nor the practical experience to know whether the workbook would be any use to people whose main focus is agricultural ecosystems. I have a feeling that it would be, so I’m putting out a plea:

Can anyone out there enlighten the rest of us as to the ways in which resilience assessment might be put to work to understand farming systems? As a corollary, has resilience science learned anything from agricultural systems?

One Reply to “Resilient scientists”

  1. A lot of the resilience work has been done in regions that include agro-ecosystems, for example the Kristianstad region in Sweden, the Goulburn Broken watershed in Australia, and the Everglades in Florida. However, this work has mostly tried to understand how the entire system works, rather than the farming system per se (many of these cases are discussed in the books Panarchy and Resilience Thinking).

    However, one recent example of applying resilience ideas to agro-ecosystems in Tanzania is:

    Enfors, E., Gordon, L.J. (2007) Analysing resilience in dryland agro-ecosystems: A case study of the Makanya catchment in Tanzania over the past 50 years. Land Degradation & Development, 18(6) 680 – 696.

    As for how useful the workbook is, that is what the RA wants to find out, by trying out the workbook and learning how to do it better. Hopefully the wiki will be useful for this process. I know that I and other people from the Resilience Alliance are trying the book out, and we hope that others will contribute.

    I think that the workbook will be useful in the analysis of many different systems. For example, I have been applying it a bit to campus sustainability assessment at McGill University. From that experience I can see that some parts of it are useful and others not. I expect the same will be true for many other systems. Hopefully this type of feedback can be used to improve the workbook.

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