The Wetland Book pp 2105-2115 | Cite as

Strategic Environmental Assessment for Wetlands: Resilience Thinking

  • Mike JonesEmail author
Reference work entry


Conventional strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is based on the assumption that ecosystems and people behave predictably and that cause and effect have a direct and linear relationship. Recognition of wetlands as complex adaptive systems has profound implications for wetland management and requires a paradigm shift from command-and-control management to management for complexity and uncertainty. Resilience assessment as a potential alternative assessment method takes the uncertainty and complexity of ecosystems into account and improves the manner in which SEA is undertaken. This chapter provides a brief description of resilience theory, the resilience assessment process, and some general resilience perspectives on the use of wetlands. The main steps in resilience assessment are (1) System description; (2) General resilience assessment; (3) Specified resilience assessment; (4) Governance assessment; and (5) Strategy and management planning. The assessment considers the biophysical, social, and economic domains of the system, its subsystems, and the environment within which it is located. An assessment of the governance structures that regulates natural resource use in the system may be indicated by the number, nature, and severity of issues identified in the initial description of the system. The assessment process is iterative and allows for a social learning process to develop a deeper understanding of the system’s dynamics and an adaptive management strategy. Resilience assessment is a strategy development tool, providing a big picture understanding of a system and the possible outcome of the selected direction for change or no change. It helps managers decide whether to enhance the resilience of the existing system or to transform the system and develop its resilience.


Resilience Complex adaptive systems Adaptive cycle Panarchy Wetlands SEA 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swedish Biodiversity CentreUppsalaSweden

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