Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems

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Island Press, 2002 - Business & Economics - 507 pages
9 Reviews
Creating institutions to meet the challenge of sustainability is arguably the most important task confronting society; it is also dauntingly complex. Ecological, economic, and social elements all play a role, but despite ongoing efforts, researchers have yet to succeed in integrating the various disciplines in a way that gives adequate representation to the insights of each.Panarchy, a term devised to describe evolving hierarchical systems with multiple interrelated elements, offers an important new framework for understanding and resolving this dilemma. Panarchy is the structure in which systems, including those of nature (e.g., forests) and of humans (e.g., capitalism), as well as combined human-natural systems (e.g., institutions that govern natural resource use such as the Forest Service), are interlinked in continual adaptive cycles of growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal. These transformational cycles take place at scales ranging from a drop of water to the biosphere, over periods from days to geologic epochs. By understanding these cycles and their scales, researchers can identify the points at which a system is capable of accepting positive change, and can use those leverage points to foster resilience and sustainability within the system.This volume brings together leading thinkers on the subject -- including Fikret Berkes, Buz Brock, Steve Carpenter, Carl Folke, Lance Gunderson, C.S. Holling, Don Ludwig, Karl-Goran Maler, Charles Perrings, Marten Scheffer, Brian Walker, and Frances Westley -- to develop and examine the concept of panarchy and to consider how it can be applied to human, natural, and human-natural systems. Throughout, contributors seek to identify adaptive approaches to management that recognize uncertainty and encourage innovation while fostering resilience.The book is a fundamental new development in a widely acclaimed line of inquiry. It represents the first step in integrating disciplinary knowledge for the adaptive management of human-natural systems across widely divergent scales, and offers an important base of knowledge from which institutions for adaptive management can be developed. It will be an invaluable source of ideas and understanding for students, researchers, and professionals involved with ecology, conservation biology, ecological economics, environmental policy, or related fields.

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Review: Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems

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Panarchies and the Network of Human Settlements Panarchy describes a cycle of a complex system where it first grows (r), then becomes conservative (K), eventually collapses (W), and reorganizes (a) to ... Read full review

Review: Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems

User Review  - Goodreads

I heard co-author Gunderson speak at the Quivira Coalition meeting in Albuquerque and I was sold on this concept of panarchy and dynamic systems theory. Not a quick read, but a deep one, and the insights apply everywhere. Read full review


In Quest of a Theory of Adaptive Change
Resilience and Adaptive Cycles
Sustainability and Panarchies
Why Systems of People and Nature
Ecosystem Dynamics
The Dynamics of Political Discourse
Collapse Learning and Renewal
The Economic
Resilient RangelandsAdaptation
Discoveries for Sustainable Futures
Toward an Integrative Synthesis
Appendix A A Model for Ecosystems with
Appendix B Optimizing Social Utility from Lake Use

Dynamic Interaction of Societies
A Future of Surprises
List of Contributors

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About the author (2002)

L. H. Gunderson is professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. C. S. Holling is emeritus eminent scholar in the Department of Zoology at the University of Florida in Gainesville.