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Is resilience maladaptive? Towards an accurate lexicon for climate change adaptation

Author(s): Nicholas A. Fisichelli, Gregor W. Schuurman, Cat Hawkins Hoffman
Year Published: 2016
Description:

Climate change adaptation is a rapidly evolving field in conservation biology and includes a range of strategies from resisting to actively directing change on the landscape. The term 'climate change resilience,' frequently used to characterize adaptation strategies, deserves closer scrutiny because it is ambiguous, often misunderstood, and difficult to apply consistently across disciplines and spatial and temporal scales to support conservation efforts. Current definitions of resilience encompass all aspects of adaptation from resisting and absorbing change to reorganizing and transforming in response to climate change. However, many stakeholders are unfamiliar with this spectrum of definitions and assume the more common meaning of returning to a previous state after a disturbance. Climate change, however, is unrelenting and intensifying, characterized by both directional shifts in baseline conditions and increasing variability in extreme events. This ongoing change means that scientific understanding and management responses must develop concurrently, iteratively, and collaboratively, in a science-management partnership. Divergent concepts of climate change resilience impede cross-jurisdictional adaptation efforts and complicate use of adaptive management frameworks. Climate change adaptation practitioners require clear terminology to articulate management strategies and the inherent tradeoffs involved in adaptation. Language that distinguishes among strategies that seek to resist change, accommodate change, and direct change (i.e., persistence, autonomous change, and directed change) is prerequisite to clear communication about climate change adaptation goals and management intentions in conservation areas.

Citation: Fisishelli, N.a.; Schuurman, G.W.; Hoffman, C.H. 2016. Is resilience maladaptive? Towards an accurate lexicon for climate change adaptation. Environmental Management. 57(4): 753-758.
Topic(s): Fire & Future Climate
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 14618
Record updated: Sep 26, 2016