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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Resilience trinity: safeguarding ecosystem functioning and services across three different time horizons and decision contexts

Weise, Hanna; Auge, Harald; Baessler, Cornelia; Baerlund, Ilona; Bennett, Elene M.; Berger, Uta; Bohn, Friedrich; Bonn, Aletta; Borchardt, Dietrich; Brand, Fridolin; Chatzinotas, Antonis; Corstanje, Ron; De Laender, Frederik; Dietrich, Peter; Dunker, Susanne; Durka, Walter; Fazey, Ioan; Groeneveld, Juergen; Guilbaud, Camille S. E.; Harms, Hauke;
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Ensuring ecosystem resilience is an intuitive approach to safeguard the functioning of ecosystems and hence the future provisioning of ecosystem services (ES). However, resilience is a multi-faceted concept that is difficult to operationalize. Focusing on resilience mechanisms, such as diversity, network architectures or adaptive capacity, has recently been suggested as means to operationalize resilience. Still, the focus on mechanisms is not specific enough. We suggest a conceptual framework, resilience trinity, to facilitate management based on resilience mechanisms in three distinctive decision contexts and time-horizons: 1) reactive, when there is an imminent threat to ES resilience and a high pressure to act, 2) adjustive, when the threat is known in general but there is still time to adapt management and 3) provident, when time horizons are very long and the nature of the threats is uncertain, leading to a low willingness to act. Resilience has different interpretations and implications at these different time horizons, which also prevail in different disciplines. Social ecology, ecology and engineering are often implicitly focussing on provident, adjustive or reactive resilience, respectively, but these different notions of resilience and their corresponding social, ecological and economic tradeoffs need to be reconciled. Otherwise, we keep risking unintended consequences of reactive actions, or shying away from provident action because of uncertainties that cannot be reduced. The suggested trinity of time horizons and their decision contexts could help ensuring that longer-term management actions are not missed while urgent threats to ES are given priority.


concepts; ecosystems; ecosystem services provisioning; management; resilience

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Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action

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