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Managing Resilience in Landscapes and Personal Praxis


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Title: Managing Resilience in Landscapes and Personal Praxis

Managing Resilience in Landscapes and Personal
  • Roger Attwater and Marnie Campbell
  • Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute

  • A story about dynamics and resilience
  • Socio-ecological systems
  • Resilience Network
  • Build upon landscape application
  • Develop understanding of concepts and application
  • Implications for personal resilience
  • Renewal in our praxis is crucial to personal

What I feel is important
  • Systemic practice and practical action research
  • Experiential
  • Phronesis practical wisdom
  • Culturally sensitive / adaptive
  • Praxis concepts and applications
  • Methodological and conceptual pluralism
  • Creatively mix interpretive, analytical, critical
  • New concepts and application
  • Mentoring
  • Present current challenges / what were doing now
  • Predictability

Conceptual foundations
  • Evolving concepts and practices of adaptive
  • as metaphors that engage these tensions of
    stability and change,
  • as testable hypotheses to inform our
    understanding of the dynamics involved.
  • Concept of panarchies in socio-ecological
  • investigated to inform questions regarding roles
    in landscape management, and how these are
    expressed and acted upon.

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Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute (BMWHI)
  • The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area lies to
    the west of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
  • The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute
  • a non-profit research organization that supports
    and promotes the conservation of the cultural and
    natural heritage of the Area.
  • Broad membership including UNSW, SU, UWS, NPWS,
    Aust. Museum, Botanical Gardens, BMCC
  • Being so close to Sydney, pressures of
    urbanization and land use change around the edges
    of the World Heritage Area are an important area
    for research, community engagement and advocacy.

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A case study agri-industries near the Blue
Mountains World Heritage Area
  • 4 year project funded by Rural Industries
    Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC)
  • The basic premise of this study is that there is
    an important landscape niche and role for
    agri-industries as a buffer between the
    encroaching urban sprawl of Sydney and the World
    Heritage Area.
  • intent is to support an approach to advocacy
  • responsive to the numerous relevant perspectives
    operating at different scales,
  • grounded upon an adaptive methodology reflecting
    relevance, co-construction, and critical rigour.

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Sustainability and Social-Ecological Systems
  • Issues of sustainability reflect a recognized
    need for more creative collaborations between
    science and society.
  • The nature of the problems are increasingly seen
    as complex systems, and the integrative nature of
    humans-in-nature reflected in the term
    social-ecological systems.
  • Key questions include
  • how our societies can deal with change in
    social-ecological systems, and
  • how a capacity to adapt to change can help shape
    a shift towards sustainability (Berkes et al.

Resilience, adaptability and landscapes
  • Resilience is the capacity to respond to a
    disturbance so that the essential nature of the
    system is retained, with adaptability the
    capacity of actors to influence or manage this
    resilience (Walker et al. 2004).
  • The institutional landscapes within which
    actors try to develop appropriate co-management
    are critical to the resilience of
    social-ecological systems (Olsson et al. 2004).
  • Also transformability ability to change into
    completely new form

A crisis of partial solutions
  • movement towards sustainable solutions requires
    that we recognize, and seek to overcome the
    partial nature of our perspectives through
    conceptual and methodological pluralism.
  • In the case of landscape management, the
    complexities of contextual dynamics and partial
    perspectives have contributed to an ongoing
  • translating science and inquiry into management
  • translation and communication with communities
  • translating guidelines into governance.

Systemic intervention
  • Systemic intervention is the need for critical
    reflection on the question of the boundaries
    placed upon inquiry
  • about whose perspectives are relevant and how
    this will impact upon the intervention (e.g.
    Midgley and Ochoa-Arias 2004).
  • The authors view of integrated catchment
    management is
  • as a systemic intervention that attempts to
    connect and translate between the emergent issues
    and perspectives, which occur at different levels
    of scale (Attwater et al. 2005).
  • The inquiry becomes a search for practical and
    strategic leverage in management and policy an
    exercise in advocacy.

Communities of practice
  • Related to the question of whose voices are heard
    is the way in which we consider aggregates of
    individual perspectives.
  • Shortcomings in processes of stakeholder
  • led to attempts that focus on communities of
    practice as a workable alternative (e.g.
    Attwater and Derry 2005).

Transformational change as panarchy
  • Developed from the work on adaptive management by
    members of the worldwide Resilience Alliance
    (Gunderson and Holling 2002).
  • The nature of this broad model of change as
    another partial perspective indicates the need
    for requisite simplicity while retaining
  • almost so general to be more like a metaphor of
  • used as a testable dynamic against a range of
    transformational changes
  • In essence, the panarchy has two key aspects
  • a nested hierarchy of critical processes
    operating at different scales and speeds in a
    nonlinear fashion and
  • an adaptive cycle reflecting phases of
    exploitation, conservation, creative destruction,
    and renewal.

Developmental case study
  • This study is still in its early developmental
  • A participatory and co-constructed approach is
    being developed
  • The plan is to allow an emergent methodology,
    responsive to issues and activities of the
  • Analytical tools will be chosen throughout this
    fluid process depending upon these issues.
  • Aspects of the methodology briefly considered
    here are
  • an initial schema which attempts to address the
    problem of what values and risks are internalized
    or externalized
  • attractors around which issues and methodologies
    cluster and
  • emergent communities of practice and
    methodological implications.

An Initial Schema Internalization of Values and
  • key issues in relation to the extent to which
    values and risks were internalized at different
    scales (Figure 1).
  • This follows the critical aspects of systemic
    intervention outlined above, and is based upon
    the view that alternative perspectives and
    methodologies define themselves as much by what
    they dont include, i.e. implicit assumptions.
  • This preliminary schema reflects a need to
    recognizing what values are externalized, i.e.
    outside the boundary of decision-making and key
    driving forces.

A Preliminary Schema Scale, Issues and
Values Scale Societal Role
agri-industry near World Heritage (Nat/intern.)
land use change fragmentation /
urbanisation State fire legislation and devel.
control opportunity for local innovation Region
al land prices and subdivision suitability near
World Heritage rural redevelopment role
agriculture in region Local govt. Role zoning
instruments rates and income fire risk and
env. impacts Locality infrastructure / devel.
constraints identity / character Agri-indust
ry clusters Household income /
livelihood economic and env. Buffers
Values / risks internalized
------------------------ Values / risks
Contestability and dialogue
  • focus on key contestable concepts common
    values held by players with very different
    worldviews, but interpreted very differently
    (Attwater et al. 2005).
  • Heritage is one such contestable concept what
    worth conserving can mean very different things,
    and potentially be a clash of different
    historical, contemporary, and cultural values.
  • World Heritage listing has a certain defined set
    of values and characteristics.
  • Other contemporary views of heritage held by
    those who live and work around the periphery of
    the World Heritage area are also critically
    relevant to the search for resilience through
    practical and strategic co-management.

Brokerage and advocacy
  • supported by an ongoing dialogue with a broad
    range of local government and agency
  • responsibilities overlap the geographic area of
  • This dialogue will seek opportunities for
    brokerage in relation to
  • enabling policies,
  • potential funding for initiatives, and
  • other options of likely shared benefit.

The Panarchy a Metaphor of Transformational
  • theoretical basis of the panarchy builds on
  • complex systems thinking, and
  • the interactions of processes through
    self-organization and attractors.
  • It is a challenge for the authors to try to apply
    this to the situation of concern and interpret
    how this theory reveals the dynamics behind the
    patterns we perceive.
  • The following sections flip between summary
    statements of theory, examples drawn from other
    complex systems, and a preliminary application to
    the case study.

Nested key processes
  • Based initially on ecological applications, it
    has been found that hierarchical structures are
    regulated by a small set of key processes, each
    at particular frequencies and spatial scales.
  • These processes produce patterns and are
    reinforced by these, reflecting
  • the work of the resilience alliance over the past
    decade has increasingly considered questions of
    resilience in socio-economic and institutional
  • A summary of key variables for a range of systems
    is shown below in Table 1.

Examples of key variables and speeds for a range
of systems (adapted from Holling et al. 2002a)
Lumpy distributions and attributes
  • The broad ranges of living systems, both social
    and ecological, have shown discontinuous
    distributions over time and space, entraining
    attributes of variables into distinct lumps.
  • This is not just with regard to discrete
    aggregates, but also attributes of frequency of
    fluctuations, sizes and morphological aspects,
    and scales of decision processes.
  • The pattern of variables entrained by this
    lumpiness determines the resilience and
    robustness to modification or exogenous change.
  • This is in part due to the interactions between
    these variables as overlapping reinforcement of
    function both within and across scale.
  • These lumps that emerge from these
    self-organizing biological and social processes
    represent attractors (Holling et al. 2002b).

Implications for emergent methodology
  • interdependent lumpy sets of attractors -
    interpreted by building upon the preliminary
    schema with respect to key clusters, or
    attractors, at different scales and dimensions.
  • The design and interpretation of an initial
    series of semi-structured discussions was based
    on the following key clusters
  • the family business,
  • local spatial arrangements,
  • networks of practice
  • product life cycle and
  • policy enablers.

  • From this initial series the responses were then
    interpreted in relation to what communities of
    practice emerged.
  • The example shown in figures below reflect
    different strategies and practices.
  • One figure reflects orchardists who avoid central
    markets and are associated with alternative local
    and regional arrangements.
  • Another grouping have high investment and high
    return orchards and focus on large national
  • This preliminary analysis tended to support the
    utility of focusing on emergent communities of

Example of mapping issues described by local
focus orchardists
Example of mapping issues described by market
oriented orchardists
International terms of trade
Agri-industry duopoly
High investment to maintain edge on competition
Regional advantage / timing to market
Market contacts agents, transport, pickers
C o P
Water storages and recycling
Interest of son, changing attitudes compared to
Internalized ---------- values -------------------
  • A key aspect of the panarchy model is the nature
    of the fast and slow variables that interact.
  • A preliminary attempt to interpret these in
    relation to the clusters used is presented below.
  • an important implication is that a suite of
    management and policy tools are needed which
    engage these different variables collectively.
  • A focus on merely one aspect may contribute to a
    destabilization of these interacting variables.
  • This is consistent with strategic integrative
    frameworks such as integrated catchment

Possible slow and faster variables
Phases and Interactions in the Adaptive Cycle
  • Another key aspect of the panarchy is the
    description of a dynamic of phases in an adaptive
    cycle, which then interact through cross scale
    interactions of faster and slower systems.
  • The dimensions of this adaptive cycle are
    potential, connectedness, and resilience (Figure
    4 a b).
  • The adaptive cycle is described in relation to
    four general phases
  • exploitation ( r ),
  • conservation ( K ),
  • creative destruction ( O ) and
  • renewal ( a ).

  • The key feature identified from ecological
    systems was that change is neither gradual nor
    chaotic, but episodic,
  • with the slow accumulation of natural capital
    punctuated by sudden releases and reorganization.
  • This cascading panarchical collapse is due to a
    period of success leading to the accumulation of
    rigidities and brittleness.
  • Release or creative destruction occurs rapidly
    (O) along with a rapid reorganization or renewal
    phase (a).

Dimensions and phases in the adaptive cycle
(Holling and Gunderson 2002 reproduced from
Holling 2004)
  • Movement through the exploitation to the
    conservation phase means resilience is reduced.
  • Release and reorganization brings with it
    increased resilience.
  • The backloop has been clearly identified as
    critical to issues of resilience and adaptability
    (e.g. Holling 2004).

Dimensions and phases in the adaptive cycle
(Holling and Gunderson 2002 reproduced from
Holling 2004)
Cross scale interactions
  • The interactions between panarchies at different
    scales are also fundamental, with
  • faster cycles of renewal creating revolt, or
    diffusing larger episodes of creative
    destruction, and
  • biotic legacies or memory from larger slower
    cycles can contribute to the reorganization.
  • Maladaptive cycles and traps can also be

Cross scale interactions (Holling and Gunderson
2002 reproduced from Holling 2004)
  • The utility of a model such as panarchy may be in
    interpreting management or policy intervention in
    terms of
  • conserving the ability to adapt and respond in a
    flexible manner to uncertainty and surprises,
  • buffering disturbance and creating novelty
    (Holling et al. 2002b).

  • Following the interpretation of responses from
    interviews in relation to issues and attractors
    at different scales, a next step was to try to
    interpret these in relation to the stages of the
    adaptive cycle.
  • It was found that items mentioned may reflect
    trends between phases, for example
  • a product focus on regional identity provides
    opportunity for reorganization ( a ) and
    exploitation of new market niches created ( r ),
    i.e. ( a ? r ).

Issues and opportunities in relation to clusters
and phases
  • In this preliminary analysis there seemed to be a
    clear relationship between the phases of the
    adaptive cycle and the earlier mapping of issues
    in relation to the degree of externalization.
  • Those opportunities that reflect resilience,
    memory and internalized values could be
    identified as lying in the backloop of the
    adaptive cycle, for example
  • where water recycling generates a new resource (O
    ? a), or
  • when a regional identity can generate new market
    opportunity ( a? r ).
  • As investment, bureaucracy or market control
    developed, these tend to increase capitalization
    and control, e.g. ( K ? O ), while externalizing
    values and risks.
  • In between these, many of the key methods for
    making the most of the market opportunities (e.g.
    entrepreneurialism / tourism and having good
    market contacts) capitalize on these structural
    associations( r?K).

Implications for the Emergent Methodology
  • The preliminary analysis presented above has a
    number of implications for the emergent
    methodology used. These include
  • focusing feedback on the broad range of
    interconnected issues and not rushing to focus on
    singular aspects
  • trying to work pragmatically with the emergent
    communities of practice to try to co-construct
    the inquiry and identification of points of
    leverage and
  • continuing to focus on the relationships between
    issues and having a broad suite of established
    methods to mix and match as appropriate.

  • Since this initial interpretation, a further
    differentiation has emerged within the local
    focus orchardists. These include
  • those producers who focus on farmgate sale of
    only their own produce
  • those involved in broader networks of points of
  • pick your own orchardists, flower growers, and
  • permaculture practitioners.
  • All these groups have sophisticated supply chain
  • Keeping ahead of central market
  • Alternative marketing arrangements

  • A broad range of potential methodologies are
    being considered for inclusion and other options
    are likely to emerge as this inquiry progresses
  • This is based upon a view of pluralist practice
    that creatively mixes analytical, interpretive,
    and critical methods (e.g. Attwater 2000).

  • More detailed investigation with representative
    landholders is likely to focus on
  • means to express the ecosystem services provided
    by these agri-industry strategies along with
  • quantitative assessment of product life cycles,
  • qualitative investigation of underlying
  • At a later stage these may lead to the use of
    scenario planning, which is becoming a common
    tool for investigating implications of
    alternative futures.

Potential supporting methodologies
Concluding Implications
  • This integrative theory provides us with some
    supporting rational for interpreting dynamics
    underlying the processes of change we see around
  • The extent that management is possible will
    depend on how and when opportunities for leverage
    and choice emerge.
  • The theory cautions us that surprise is
    inevitable, and that agents capacity for
    adaptability is dependent upon many factors and
  • However, it also suggests that an awareness of
    these dynamics can perhaps provide opportunities
    for simple yet profound improvement.

Implications for personal strategies
  • While beginning to understand these concepts
    through this application, I have begun to notice
    some strong parallels with personal strategies.
  • The renewal in our own praxis, the tasks we
    engage with, and our organizational contexts, may
    reflect similar dynamics.

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  • In reflecting upon the development of this field,
    Holling (2004) recognized similar paradoxes in
    organizations he had been involved in, and his
    own experiences.
  • Opportunities for integrative scholarship and
    collaboration became less responsive as time
  • his own intellectual growth, frustration and
    renewal seemed to have a 7-10 year pattern.
  • Perhaps triggering smaller renewal cycles in our
    own concepts and applications is crucial to avoid
    personal ossification and collapse.

  • From a personal perspective a key conclusion is
    the need for creative renewal in our engagement
    with new integrative concepts and applications.
  • On the basis of the theory of panarchies, this
    will generate resilience in our praxis.

Implications for epistemic communities
  • This has other important implications for the
    organization of our epistemic communities and
    how we react to new ideas or arguments presented
    in an unorthodox manner.
  • Given the tendency for institutionalization,
    there is however
  • a clear choice to try to go against the flow (K
    ? r), and
  • seeking to prevent our epistemic boundaries from
    ossifying and manifesting as rejection.
  • Mentoring and embracing difference as it emerges
    is perhaps one strategy.

Concluding comments
  • This integrative framework has now established a
    growing field of critical application.
  • It is the belief of a number of our colleagues
    that this theory may have very important
    implications for our engagement with the big
    problems we confront.
  • This engagement with this theory in only a small
    step along the way, and reinforces the need for
    creative renewal in both our personal praxis and
    the landscapes we live in.