Measuring Social-Ecological Resilience Reveals Opportunities for Transforming Environmental Governance

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Final version published as: 

Salomon, A. K., A. E. Quinlan, G. H. Pang, D. K. Okamoto, and L. Vazquez-Vera. 2019. Measuring social-ecological resilience reveals opportunities for transforming environmental governance. Ecology and Society 24(3):16. DOI: 10.5751/ES-11044-240316

Date created: 
2019-09-01
Keywords: 
Adaptive governance
Comanagement
Complex adaptive systems
Coupled natural and human systems
Forage fish
Indigenous
Fisheries
Small-scale fisheries
Abstract: 

Understanding the resilience of social-ecological systems can advance our ability to transform environmental governance and achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just outcomes. However, measuring this multidimensional emergent system property has been elusive. We translated theoretical principles of resilience into ecological and social metrics and used expert knowledge to assess how they have changed through three sequential governance regimes of the Pacific herring fishery in northwestern Canada. We showed a significant reduction in system-wide resilience between previous Indigenous and historical colonial governance regimes, and limited change with the onset of the latest environmental justice era. We also detected recent signs of recovery among several metrics of resilience, thereby signaling that this system exhibits the preconditions for governance transformation. Pinpointing the erosion and recovery of attributes that confer social-ecological resilience can reveal leverage points and highlight strategic pathways to enable deliberate transformation toward a more ecologically sustainable and socially just future.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
Rights: 
Rights remain with the authors.
File(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
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