Linking social, economic and ecological systems in the countryside:management practices and landscape planning for building rural resilience
05 / 2008 - 12 / 2012
In modern ecology, the concept of ecological resilience plays an important role. It is defined as the capacity of a system to absorb shocks and disturbances, while still maintaining the same functions, structure and feedbacks. Since its introduction in 1973 (Holling, 1973), the term resilience has emerged in literature on psychology, ecology, food aid, resources management, health and climate change (Gardner and Dekens, 2007). Yet, surprisingly little is known about the extent to which the concept of resilience can be applied to rural development. That is, although rural areas are facing rapid changes and uncertainties in the agricultural, forestry and landscape services that affect their future, little attention has been paid to the resilience of these areas. `Rural resilienceÂ¿, which may be defined as the capacity of a rural region to adapt to changing external circumstances in such a way that a satisfactory standard of living is maintained, refers to a rural areaÂ¿s ability to cope with its inherent economic, ecological and cultural vulnerability. The proposed research focuses on rural land-use configurations that more optimally support the functions of rural areas, and promote resilience in rural settings. It explores how the concept of resilience can be applied to the rural area, if considered as an ecological, economic and cultural system, which system characteristics determine the effects of changes on the rural system as well as the mechanisms through which they appear to buffer external shocks. The research also attempts to elucidate some guiding principles for rural landscape planning and design.