Table 2. Optimization and resilience thinking.

Optimization for conservation Resilience thinking
Strengths (inherent) Recognizes resource scarcity Recognizes system complexity
Encourages transparency in resource allocation
Recognizes interdependence of social and biophysical systems
Strengths (in practice) Can provide specific answers to a well-defined problem Encourages anticipation of undesirable surprises or thresholds
Fits well with how business and governments operate
Encourages reflection on how a system works
Weaknesses (inherent) Sensitive to accuracy of underlying assumptions and system model Potentially difficult to apply to systems without identifiable alternate states
Weaknesses (in practice) Targets or budget constraints are often informed by politics rather than by an in-depth understanding of underlying system dynamics Reliant on tools from other disciplines to be operational to inform policy
The term “optimal” can sound absolute to policy-makers and the general public
The term “resilience” can appear vague to policy-makers and the general public
Adapted from Fischer et al. (2009)