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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Barriers and bridges to the integration of social-ecological resilience and law

Green, Olivia Odom; Garmestani, Ahjond S.; Allen, Craig R.; Gunderson, Lance H; Ruhl, J. B.; Arnold, Craig A.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Cosens, Barbara; Angeler, David; Chaffin, Brian C.; Holling, CS


There is a fundamental difference between the ways in which ecologists and lawyers view uncertainty: in the study of ecology, uncertainty provides a catalyst for exploration, whereas uncertainty is antithetical to the rule of law. This issue is particularly troubling in environmental management, where the tensions between law and ecology become apparent. Rather than acknowledge uncertainties in management actions, legal frameworks often force a false sense of certainty in linking cause and effect. While adaptive management has been developed to deal with uncertainty, laws and legal wrangling can be obstacles to implementation. In this article, we recommend resilience-based governance "adaptive governance" as a means to begin bridging the gap between law and ecology.

Published in

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
2015, volume: 13, number: 6, pages: 332-337

Authors' information

Green, Olivia Odom
Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF)
Garmestani, Ahjond S.
US Environmental Protection Agency
Allen, Craig R.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Gunderson, Lance H
Emory University
Ruhl, J. B.
Vanderbilt University Law School
Arnold, Craig A.
University of Louisville
Graham, Nicholas A. J.
James Cook University
Cosens, Barbara
University of Idaho
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Chaffin, Brian C.
US Environmental Protection Agency
Holling, CS

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action
SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

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