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Does Adaptive Management of Natural Resources Enhance Resilience to Climate Change?

Emma L Tompkins, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia
W. Neil Adger, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia

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Abstract

Emerging insights from adaptive and community-based resource management suggest that building resilience into both human and ecological systems is an effective way to cope with environmental change characterized by future surprises or unknowable risks. We argue that these emerging insights have implications for policies and strategies for responding to climate change. We review perspectives on collective action for natural resource management to inform understanding of climate response capacity. We demonstrate the importance of social learning, specifically in relation to the acceptance of strategies that build social and ecological resilience. Societies and communities dependent on natural resources need to enhance their capacity to adapt to the impacts of future climate change, particularly when such impacts could lie outside their experienced coping range. This argument is illustrated by an example of present-day collective action for community-based coastal management in Trinidad and Tobago. The case demonstrates that community-based management enhances adaptive capacity in two ways: by building networks that are important for coping with extreme events and by retaining the resilience of the underpinning resources and ecological systems.

Key words

Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, adaptive capacity, climate change, community-based management, natural resource management, social-ecological resilience
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087