Date of this Version
Aslan, C.E., B. Petersen, A.B. Shiels, W. Haines, and C.T. Liang. 2018. Operationalizing resilience for conservation objectives: the 4S's. Restoration Ecology 26(6):1032-1038. doi: 10.1111/rec.12867
Although resilience thinking is increasingly popular and attractive among restoration practitioners, it carries an abstract quality that hinders effective application. Because resilience and its components are defined differently in social and ecological contexts, individual managers or stakeholders may disagree on the definition of a system’s state, occurrence of a state change, preferred state characteristics, and appropriate methods to achieve success. Nevertheless, incentives and mandates often force managers to demonstrate how their work enhances resilience. Unclear or conflicting definitions can lead to ineffective or even detrimental decision-making in the name of resilience; essentially, any convenient action can be touted as resilience-enhancing in this case. We contend that any successful resilience management project must clearly identify up-front the stressors of concern, state traits, scales of appropriate management, and success indicators (the 4S’s) relevant to the management targets. We propose a deliberate process for determining these components in advance of resilience management for conservation. Our recommendations were inspired and informed by two case studies wherein different definitions of stressors, state, scales, and success would result in very different management choices, with potentially serious consequences for biodiversity targets.