In this chapter our intent is to present a method – response strategy assessment – for evaluating the resilience of social–ecological systems. We will describe how key features of social–ecological resilience can be used as a basis for a simple and generic analytical tool. This method uses empirical observations of stakeholder actions, qualitative or quantitative, as input data.
We begin with a review of recent thinking concerning resilience-orientated approaches to landscape management, making important distinctions among three responses to disturbance: coping, adapting and strategic transformation. We define and classify ecosystem services as they apply to landscapes, paying particular attention to how the ecological scales (where services are generated) may or may not coincide in space or time with the social scales where stakeholders receive benefits.
We combine all of these notions in the application of response strategy assessment in a cultural landscape in southern Sweden. We conclude that the method is a simple application of resilience concepts, with potential for use in a variety of cultural landscapes and management situations.
Resilience-orientated approaches to landscape management
Resilience-orientated approaches to landscape management are concerned with how systems respond to disturbance. A disturbance may come in different forms, such as stress driven by slow-changing variables or as shocks related to fast-changing variables.
Resilience is simultaneously dependent on the nature of the drivers that exert stress or shock and on the nature of the system under influence of this disturbance. A system with few properties that support resilience may be very persistent in a stable environment with few and mild disturbances. Likewise, a system with properties that contribute to robustness, sturdiness, etc. would not be resilient in an overly hostile environment. One needs to explore both the properties of disturbances as well as those of the system to estimate the resilience of a particular system.