Defining Resilience: C.S. Holling

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Defining Resilience

It was C S Holling in 1973 that introduced the term ‘Resilience’ into ecological literature as a way of understanding non-linear dynamics observed in the ecosystem. Resilience theory is referred to the capacity of a social ecological system to withstand shock and to re-build and re-new itself. According to C S Holling father of resilience theory “whatever you do climate is going to change, some of them will be sudden, some of them will be crisis but in fact these are opportunities for people to learn on how to deal with and then turn the crisis into opportunity”. Resilience is structured around acceptance of disturbance. According to Brian Walker “Resilience is the capacity of a system to undergo change and still retain its basic function and structure. In other words it is the capacity to undergo some change without crossing a threshold into a different system regime”. C S Holling defines the behaviour of ecosystem in two different ways: stability and resilience. According to him “resilience determines the persistence of the relationships within the system and is a measure of the ability of the systems to absorb changes of state variables, driving variables, parameters and still persist” . Resilience is a part of the system and stability refers to the ability of the system to return to the original position after the disturbance . According to C S Holling there are two components that are important in the system they are cyclical behaviour and its frequency and amplitude, and the configuration of forces caused by the positive and negative feedback relations. Resilience is about withstanding shocks like climate change or financial crisis and turn the circumstance into an opportunity or innovation.


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...ow variables that are driving the change and devise a method to control these slow variables. If we focus on efficiency alone there is reduction in the systems diversity and the system becomes more vulnerable to shocks. Subsidies should be used to promote the change rather no to change. Investing in building social capacity like education the people who are depended on the resources for livelihood, networking and promote experimentation that are sustainable. Devising government policies that help build resilience measures both in terms of ecological resilience and social resilience; this can be done through poverty reduction methods and enforcing strict environmental laws against degradation. Government policies should keep in mind that there is always a trade off between profits in the short run and long term persistence and reduced costs from crisis management .

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