WHAT IS RESILIENC?You are here:Home / What is Resilienc?
What is Resilienc?

Resilience defination:

Resilience is the capacity of a social-ecological system to absorb or withstand perturbations and other stressors such that the system remains within the same regime, essentially maintaining its structure, functions and feedbacks.

It describes the degree to which the system is capable of self-organization, learning and adaptation (Holling 1973, Gunderson & Holling 2002, Walker et al. 2004). The concept of resilience in ecological systems was first introduced by the Canadian ecologist C.S. Holling in 1970s in order to describe the persistence of natural systems in the face of changes in ecosystem variables due to natural or anthropogenic causes.


Two types of resilience

There are two types of resilience: specific resilience and general resilience. Specific resilience refer to a particular aspect of a social-ecological system to a particular kind of disturbance, for instance, management of catchments in Australia seeks to avoid a water-table threshold that salinizes the soil and thereby destroys the fertility of agriculture land. General resilience is the capacity to absorb shocks of all kinds, including novel and unforeseen ones. The challenge of building resilience to unknown disturbances is far more difficult than planning for known types of disturbance.


Seven principles to enhance system resilience

1.     Maintain diversity and redundancy

2.     Manage connectivity

3.     Manage slow variables and feedbacks

4.     Foster complex adaptive systems thinking

5.     Encourage learning

6.     Broaden participation

7.     Promote polycentric governance



Holling, C. S. 1973. Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 4:1-23.

Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. R. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig. 2004. Adaptability and Transformability in Social-Ecological Systems. Ecology and Society 9:5.

Biggs, R., M. Schlüter, M.L. Schoon (Eds.). 2015. Principles for building resilience: Sustaining ecosystem services in social-ecological systems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.