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Resilience, Adaptability, and Transformability in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia

Brian H Walker, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Nick Abel, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
John M Anderies, School of Human Evolution and Social Change and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Paul Ryan, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems

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We present a resilience-based approach for assessing sustainability in a sub-catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin in southeast Australia. We define the regional system and identify the main issues, drivers, and potential shocks, then assess both specified and general resilience. The current state of the system is a consequence of changes in resource use. We identify ten known or possible biophysical, economic, and social thresholds operating at different scales, with possible knock-on effects between them. Crossing those thresholds may result in irreversible changes in goods and services generated by the region. Changes in resilience, in general, reflect a pattern of past losses with some signs of recent improvements.

Interventions in the system for managing resilience are constrained by current governance, and attention needs to be paid to the roles and capacities of the various institutions. An overview of the current state of the system and likely future trends suggests that transformational change in the region be seriously considered.

Key words

integrated assessment of regional resilience; interventions to support specific and general resilience; threshold interactions and cascades
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087