Ploughing Resilient Agri-Ecosystems
Resilience Assessment is a practical tool that was developed by the Resilience Alliance in 2010. Now, CEEweb is developing an approach for the CEE region.
It is a simple and science-based framework to assess and build resilience in social-ecological systems. It is built to organize knowledge, to help to assess that knowledge in a participatory process, and to define necessary action for resilience building.
Currently, CEEweb for Biodiversity is working with this framework to develop a fresh and more focused assessment approach — specifically, addressing agri-ecosystems. In Europe, agriculture is the most important driver of biodiversity loss; thus, transforming food production is a crucial task that has to be finished as soon as possible. We are not close to sustainable agriculture, though. Transformation is hard, in part because the current system has its own “resilience” that keeps it in place — that resists all transforming forces. Ecological, technological, economic, and cultural factors limit our ability to change food production. For transformative change, systemic, interdisciplinary, and participatory approaches are necessary.
The CEEweb Resilience Analysis Tool is a framework that is building on analysis and exploration of systemic interactions; then, planning the actions for resilience. Similar to the original resilience assessment framework, it is written as a workbook that can be “filled in” in a participatory process — the goal is essentially to guide collective thinking and discussion about a local social-ecological system.
Our framework consists of 10 steps:
- Specify the main issue that motivates the assessment.
- Define system boundaries.
- List main system elements, related stakeholders, and pace of change.
- Identify slow variables.
- Identify expected shocks (pulse, press or break); draw up a timeline of shocks.
- Estimate the present value of slow variables.
- Estimate change in disturbance frequencies.
- Match slow variables and stakeholders who influence them.
- Data sources and monitoring.
- Vision and strategy for experiments leading to new strategies.
The whole process is designed to uncover places for cooperation through the revelation of the interconnected nature of ecological and social factors. The new strategy is not a traditional plan with goals, indicators, and timeframes, but the first step towards adaptive management: a management approach that builds on experimentation and hypothesis testing. It does not have to be coherent and all-encompassing at the start but it needs explicit feedback between ‘action, result and planning’ so that the response of the system is a real driver in the decision-making process.