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Table 2 Translation of resilience principles to potential practical interpretations for agriculture and nature

From: Screening regional management options for their impact on climate resilience: an approach and case study in the Venen-Vechtstreek wetlands in the Netherlands

Resilience principle


Primary mechanism (s)

Potential Practical interpretation (for key functions in the case study)


Essential capacities are over-dimensioned such that critical thresholds are less likely to be crossed

Absorbing disturbances

Agriculture: Agrarians have sufficient resources to be able to handle disruptions to the ‘normal’ situation and longer difficult periods (e.g. prolonged heat/drought)

Nature: There is sufficient capacity (e.g. area of land, number of individuals or species, refuges, etc.) and ecological memory to be able to cope with climatic shocks and long term stresses, so that typical types of nature can recover after disturbances and/or do not get eroded beyond repair


Overlapping functions; if one fails, others can take over. Multiple copies of one approach, function, or service

Absorbing disturbances

Agriculture: Agrarians have backup options to maintain running farms and a functioning agricultural sector in the area during disruptions. If one specific aspect of a farm or the area is affected, it does not disrupt the entire system

Nature: Nature areas are compartmentalised and populations are sufficiently large to be able to handle situations where specific locations or individuals fall away (e.g. are destroyed or killed) due to a disturbance


Diversification of resources and means. Multiple different approaches that can be used alongside each other, rather than copies of one approach

Absorbing disturbances, recovery, reorganization

Agriculture: There are multiple ways to maintain the agricultural function in the area and agrarians have a variety of ways to cope with shocks and stresses (e.g. diversity of resources or means of income). If one falls away, other options are available

Nature: There is sufficient biodiversity available in the area to maintain the desirable nature types in the area. Multiple types of species fulfil the same ecological function, or there are diverse ways to cope with any shocks or changes


The hierarchical levels relative to the base should not be top-heavy. Systems without no local competence and mandate to act are too inflexible and slow to cope with surprise

Quick response, self-organisation

Agriculture: There is close interaction between agrarians and authorities and other decision-makers relevant to the region, and/or agrarians have the means and authority to act in response to disturbances themselves

Nature: Nature managers and other people involved in the practical maintenance and functioning of the natural areas should be as direct as possible (e.g. no complex lines of responsibility, long decision chains), so early warning signs and suggestions for improvement are picked up rapidly. Food pyramids in the area should not be taller than the area allows


Multiple feedback loops counteract disturbances and stabilize the system

Quick response, self-organisation, learning

Agriculture: Mechanisms are in place to monitor the functioning and health of regional agriculture, spot (potential) problems, and quickly and creatively act upon these. Including economic health, as well as long term matters such as embeddedness in the area’s other functions

Nature: There are clear lines of interaction among nature managers and with other relevant parties (e.g. farmers, recreation sector, water sector). Procedures and mechanisms are in place to monitor the area’s health, spot problems, and act upon these. Natural dynamics through which local nature copes with shocks and stresses are stimulated and maintained

High flux

Fast rate of movement of resources through the system ensures quick mobilization to respond to threats and changes

Quick response, recovery, reorganization

Agriculture: Resources (e.g. money, land, buildings, knowledge, ideas) can be quickly mobilised to cope with shocks and stresses and adapt to changes. They are not tied up too much in capital. Adaptive capacity is high

Nature: Resources (e.g. money, nutrients, biological components, water, knowledge, ideas) can be quickly mobilised to cope with shocks and stresses and adapt to changes. Natural dynamics and processes are rapid and unhindered; adaptive capacity is high