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Water RATs (resilience, adaptability, and transformability) in Lake and Wetland Social-Ecological Systems

Lance Gunderson, Steve Carpenter, Carl Folke, Per Olsson and Garry Peterson, 2006 Ecology and Society 11(1): 16


The lakes in the northern highlands of Wisconsin, USA, the lakes and wetlands of Kristianstads Vattenrike in southern Sweden, and the Everglades of Florida, USA, provide cases that can be used to compare the linkages between ecological resilience and social dynamics. The erosion of ecological resilience in aquatic and wetland ecosystems is often a result of past management actions and is manifest as a real or perceived ecological crisis. Learning is a key ingredient in response to the loss of ecological resilience. Learning is facilitated through networks that operate in distinct arenas and are structured for dialogue, synthesis, and imaginative solutions to chart alternative futures. The networks also help counter maladaptive processes such as information control or manipulation, bureaucratic inertia, or corruption. The networks help create institutional arrangements that provide for more learning and flexibility and for the ability to change. Trust and leadership appear to be key elements for adaptability and transformability.

Keywords: resilience, management, social networks, learning, wetlands, lakes, Wisconsin, Everglades, Florida, Sweden

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