Assessment Resources

Assessment Resources

Recent Publications

Resilience assessment case studies of river basin systems in the U.S. (Idaho Law Review Vol 51 iss 1)

Assessment Outputs

Natural Resource Management strategy for the Avon River Basin in western Australia developed using a resilience assessment process. Summary document available on the Wheatbelt NRM website:

Frameworks & Approaches

Assessing Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems: Workbook for Practitioners Version 2.0

Toolkit for the Indicators of Resilience in Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS)


Defining the Resilient Landscapes Approach" (Jessica Cockburn, Nokuthula Dubazane, Donovan Kotze and David Lindley, Mondi Wetlands Programme, WWF-SA). View PDF (with permission from the document source: WWF).


Workshop on resilience assessment & practice, Montpellier, France, 2 May 2014

Annotated References

Navigating Social-Ecological Systems: Building Resilience for Complexity and Change. Berkes, F., J. Colding and C. Folke (eds.) 2003. Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Press. Link to full text or pdf

This book uses complex systems theory and resilience theory to investigate complex social-ecological systems and how human societies deal with and implement change. Berkes et al. use case studies from around the world to exemplify the theoretical concepts and their implications for sustainability and development.

From Metaphor to Measurement: Resilience of What to What? Carpenter, S.R., B.H. Walker, J.M. Anderies, and N. Abel. 2001. Ecosystems 4: 765-781. Link to full text or pdf

Using two case studies (lake districts and rangelands), Carpenter et al. explore the operational indicators of resilience. They then use those indicators, such as adaptive capacity, self-organization and sustainability, in a discussion of the various uses of resilience, from a descriptive term to a quantitative quality.

Principles of ecosystem stewardship: Resilience-based natural resource management in a changing world. Chapin, F.S., III, G. P. Kofinas and C. Folke. (eds.) 2009. New York, Springer. Link to full text or pdf

Using the theories of resilience, sustainability, and vulnerability, this book focuses on ecosystem management and governance. It presents a framework for managing ecosystems for ecological integrity and human well-being while embracing uncertainty and change.

Policy strategies to address sustainability of Alaskan boreal forests in response to a directionally changing climate. Chapin, F.S., lll, A. L. Lovecraft, E. S. Zavaleta, J. Nelson, M. D. Robards, G. P. Kofinas, S.F. Trainor, F. D. Peterson, H. P. Huntington, and R. L. Naylor. 2006. PNAS 103(45): 16637-16643. Link to full text or pdf

Chapin et al. develop four broad policy strategies for pursuing sustainability of a social-ecological system. By applying the theories of vulnerability, panarchy and resilience to the case study of climate warming in the Alaskan interior, they develop policy strategies that are broadly applicable and can be pursued simultaneously.

Regime shifts, resilience and biodiversity in ecosystem management. Folke, C., S. Carpenter, B. Walker, M. Scheffer, T. Elmqvist, L. Gunderson, and C.S. Holling. 2005. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 35: 557-581. Link to full text or pdf

Folke et al. discuss how ecosystems shift to alternative states with less desirable attributes. Functional components of biodiversity, response diversity, functional groups of species and trophic levels are discussed; relating their roles in contributing to these regime shifts.

Panarchy: Understanding transformations in human and natural systems. Gunderson, L and C. S. Holling. (eds.) 2002. Washington, D.C., Island Press. Link to full text or pdf

Gunderson and Holling present a theory that embraces the inherent complexity of social-ecological systems. Natural systems are linked together forming a hierarchical structure of adaptive cycles of growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal. This is known as panarchy. Using this to explore complex systems unveils opportunities to create positive change and enhance sustainability.

Lessons from the Everglades. Gunderson, L., S. Stephen and C. S. Holling. 1995. BioScience. 45(Supplement: Science and Biodiversity Policy): s66-s73. Link to full text or pdf

This is a historical account of the Florida Everglades used to highlight how science, policy and politics interact. The role that scientists and technical experts play in the development and management of a social-ecological system is explored.

Understanding the complexity of economic, social and ecological systems. Holling, C.S. 2001. Ecosystems 4: 390-405. Link to full text or pdf

Holling discusses the creative and conserving capabilities of a panarchy, the interacting of various scales of a system. He uses the idea of panarchy to justify and clarify 'sustainable development' as a goal; a goal that requires both fostering adaptive capabilities and creating opportunities.

Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management. Holling, C. S. 1978. Wiley, London. Reprinted by Blackburn Press in 2005. Link to full text or pdf

Holling develops an adaptive approach to environmental impact assessments and management. He argues that ecosystem complexities, issues, and limitations should be incorporated in environmental planning and decision making. Holling develops justification and a strategy for environmental assessments and impact assessments to be included into policy making.

Transitions to adaptive water management and governance in Sweden. Olsson, P., and V. Galaz. 2009. In Understanding Transitions in Water Management. D. Huitema, S. Meijerink (eds.). Edward Elgar Publishing. Link to full text or pdf

This book chapter uses resilience theory to address varying management approaches. Olsson and Galaz use a case study from Sweden for their discussion of water management and governance. They then highlight social and ecological dynamics and management strategies that lead to more of an adaptive governance approach.

Assessing future ecosystem services: a case study of the Northern Highlands Lake District, Wisconsin. Peterson, G. D., T. D. Beard Jr., B. E. Beisner, E. M. Bennett, S. R. Carpenter, G. S. Cumming, C. L. Dent, and T. D. Havlicek. 2003. Conservation Ecology 7(3): 1. Link to full text or pdf

This paper is an application of an ecological assessment, developed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, of the Northern Highlands Lake District. Peterson et al. use a scenario planning approach and discuss scenarios as a tool for starting a participatory discussion.

Catastrophic regime shifts in ecosystems: linking theory to observation. Scheffer, M. and S.R. Carpenter. 2003. Trends Ecol. Evol. 18 (12), 648-656. Link to full text or pdf

A review of strategies to verify the presence of alternative stable states and the thresholds between them. Scheffer and Carpenter explore theory and link it with observation, but conclude that the best results come from experiments and modeling.

Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Scheffer, M., S. Carpenter, J. Foley, C. Folke, and B. Walker. 2001. Nature 413: 591-596. Link to full text or pdf

Scheffer et al. argue that sustainable management must incorporate maintaining resilience. They show that ecosystems are often subject to dramatic, drastic shifts to a contrasting state when disturbances occur. Susceptibility to such a shift is increased with a loss of resilience.

Resilience, adaptability, and transformability in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia. Walker, B. H., N. Abel, J. M. Anderies and P. Ryan. 2009. Ecology and Society 14(1): 12. Link to full text or pdf

The Goulburn-Broken region in southeast Australia is the focus of this regional resilience assessment. The sustainability of the region is determined by the identification the biophysical, social, and economic components in the region and the main issues, drivers, and potential shocks affecting them. Assessment of both specified and general resilience of the system leads a discussion of the necessity and potential for transformation.

Thresholds in ecological and social-ecological systems: a developing database. Walker, B. and J. A. Meyers. 2004. Ecology and Society 9(2): 3. Link to full text or pdf

Walker and Meyers present a database of published examples of regime shifts or thresholds. It is a compiling of examples, classified into one of 5 categories of thresholds and characterized in terms of a standardized set of 24 descriptors. The database provides empirical data on thresholds and regime shifts within a social-ecological system.

Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social-ecological systems. Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. R. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig. 2004. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5. Link to full text or pdf

This is a theoretical discussion of resilience and adaptability and the fundamentally different idea of transformability. Resilience, adaptability and transformability theories are used to re-evaluate the concepts of development, management, poverty and sustainability using several case studies from around the world.

Resilience management in social-ecological systems: a working hypothesis for a participatory approach. Walker, B., S. Carpenter, J. Anderies, N. Abel, G. Cumming, M. Janssen, L. Lebel, J. Norberg, G. D. Peterson, and R. Pritchard. 2002. Conservation Ecology 6(1): 14. Link to full text or pdf

Walker et al. present a stakeholder-led approach to managing social-ecological systems for long-term, sustainable outcomes. A management approach that entails describing the system and its issues, confronting uncertainty by constructing scenarios of future dynamics and using those scenarios to identify the components of the system's resilience, limits the risk to the goods and services provided by the ecosystem in question and supports a sustainable trajectory for the system.