Managing rather than Avoiding “Difficulties” in Building Landscape Resilience

Hongzhang Xu, Meng Peng, James Pittock, Jiayu Xu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Building landscape resilience inspires the cultivation of the landscape’s capacity to recover from disruption and live with changes and uncertainties. However, integrating ecosystem and society within such a unified lens—that is, socio–ecological system (SES) resilience—clashes with many cornerstone concepts in social science, such as power, democracy, rights, and culture. In short, a landscape cannot provide the same values to everyone. However, can building landscape resilience be an effective and just environmental management strategy? Research on this question is limited. A scoping literature review was conducted first to synthesise and map landscape management change based on 111,653 records. Then, we used the Nuozhadu (NZD) catchment as a case study to validate our findings from the literature. We summarised current critiques and created a framework including seven normative categories, or common difficulties, namely resilience for “whom”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why”, as well as “can” and “how” we apply resilience normatively. We found that these difficulties are overlooked and avoided despite their instructive roles to achieve just landscape management more transparently. Without clear targets and boundaries in building resilience, we found that some groups consume resources and services at the expense of others. The NZD case demonstrates that a strategy of building the NZD’s resilience has improved the conservation of the NZD’s forest ecosystems but overlooked trade-offs between sustaining people and the environment, and between sustainable development for people at different scales. Future researchers, managers, and decision-makers are thereby needed to think resilience more normatively and address the questions in the “seven difficulties” framework before intervening to build landscape resilience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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