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Resilience as a framework for analyzing the adaptation of mountain summer pasture systems to climate change

Baptiste Nettier, Université Grenoble Alpes, Irstea, UR DTGR, BP 76, F-38402 St-Martin-d'Hères, France; Université Clermont Auvergne, VetAgro Sup, UMR1213 Herbivores, BP 10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France; INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, F-63122, Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France
Laurent Dobremez, Université Grenoble Alpes, Irstea, UR DTGR, BP 76, F-38402 St-Martin-d'Hères, France
Sandra Lavorel, Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR 5553 CNRS - Université Grenoble Alpes, CS 40700, 38058 Grenoble cedex 9, France
Gilles Brunschwig, Université Clermont Auvergne, VetAgro Sup, UMR1213 Herbivores, BP 10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France; INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, F-63122, Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09625-220425

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Abstract

Social-ecological resilience is defined by Brian Walker and colleagues as “the capacity of a social-ecological system (SES) to absorb disturbances and reorganize while undergoing change so as to continue to retain essentially the same function, structure, feedbacks, and therefore identity.” It is an increasingly widespread concept whose success depends, among other things, on the promise of its rapid transfer from science into practice and its operational character for the sustainable management of SESs. However, tangible examples of management methods based on resilience remain limited in the scientific literature. Here, we test the resilience management framework proposed by Brian Walker and David Salt by applying it to the case of mountain summer pastures in the French Alps, which are complex SESs in which human and ecological dimensions are closely linked and subject to substantial perturbations due to climate change. Three steps were implemented: (1) building a conceptual model based on expert knowledge of the functioning of summer pastures; (2) building, from the model, a template for summer pasture resilience analysis; and (3) testing the operational character of the model and the template for two pairs of contrasting cases. This heuristic tool enables understanding the ways in which farmers and herders manage the resilience of their system but does not aim to quantify resilience. The method developed, together with the resilience concept, provide insights into the functioning of summer pastures from both biophysical and management perspectives. The modeling process constitutes a learning process, which will support the implementation of adaptive management. We identified three critical points for making the method truly operational: basing modeling on an equal consideration of social and ecological dimensions, defining the boundaries of the modeled system based on the social dimension, and selecting a scale of analysis coherent with the type of development actions to be implemented.

Key words

adaptation to climate change; participatory modeling; social-ecological resilience; summer mountain pastures

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087