While the adaptive cycle and panarchical connections reflect the possiblity of movement from one stable state to another, it’s possible to get “stuck” in a disfavoured trap. Social ecological systems involve both natural systems and human systems.
After widespread recognition of the 2002 Panarchy book, reflections in 2010 revealed further development of the theory and practice.
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Applying Resilience Theory
[….] The theory has shifted focus away from managing for particular equilibria to the management of regimes, as described below.
Adaptive capacity has been defined in the ecological literature as the ability to manage resilience (Gunderson 2000, Walker et al. 2004). Humans manipulate ecological systems to secure goods and services and in doing so leave the system more vulnerable to change, by eroding ecological resilience (Holling and Meffe 1996). Ecological resilience is difficult to assess and measure a priori and is often known only after the fact — that is, the complexities, nonlinearities, and self-organized processes that generate regime shifts or ecological phase transitions are generally understood only after a shift has occurred, and then only partly. Even so, humans do manage for adaptive capacity. Those management actions can be categorized as those that are aimed at buffering the impact of disturbances (Berkes and Folke 1998, 2002), those that accelerate recovery and renewal, and those that attempt to choose and manage transitions among alternative regimes.
Regime management has two key components that must be actively managed. Quite simply, they revolve around two basic questions: (1) “What kind of system do we want?”