Gunderson L., Folke. C.. 2005. Resilience: now more than ever.. Ecology & Society..


To highlight conceptualisations of resilience and their influence within social-ecological system responses to disturbance

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This article describes the development of resilience from ecosystem approaches which were inclusive of humans as agents of ecosystem change. The authors point out that early conceptualisations of resilience emphasised the time needed to recover or return to a particular system state following disturbance, and this view has continued to be carried forward into social-ecological concepts of resilience. This significantly limits the concept of resilience, particularly as it relates to dynamic interdependencies, feedbacks and cross scale influences within linked human-ecosystem processes. This limited view can lead to a number of problems, not least of which is a tendency to become ‘trapped’ in undesirable system states. The path back from recovery is often different to the path forward. Current approaches to social-ecological resilience emphasise the existence of multiple system states, processes of continuous dynamic renewal, adaptive experimentation and innovation, and transformation. It is these, and other processes, that in fact generate the resilience needed to create sustainable social-ecological systems into the future.


Adaptive learning is fundamental to resilience within social-ecological systems. There are significant and dominant forces within most societal structures and processes that propagate a form of resilience which values status quo, or the safe return to ‘normality’ as quickly as possible following disturbance. There may be practical and valid reasons for this, however, this also comes at a cost in the form of missed opportunities for potentially deeper levels of learning. The challenge for researchers and practitioners of adaptive learning is to unveil these learning opportunities.