Understanding, enhancing and managing for social resilience at the regional scale: opportunities in north Queensland

Ross, Helen, Cuthill, Michael, Maclean, Kirsten, Jansen, Danni and Witt, Bradd (2010) Understanding, enhancing and managing for social resilience at the regional scale: opportunities in north Queensland Cairns, Australia: Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited

Author Ross, Helen
Cuthill, Michael
Maclean, Kirsten
Jansen, Danni
Witt, Bradd
Title of report Understanding, enhancing and managing for social resilience at the regional scale: opportunities in north Queensland
Publication date 2010-01-01
ISBN 9781921359521
Publisher Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited
Place of publication Cairns, Australia
Total pages 176
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The concept of resilience in social-ecological systems has attracted considerable recent interest as a foundation for Natural Resource Management (NRM), yet there is a distinct knowledge gap when it comes to the social dimensions of resilience.

This research project focused on developing a regional level social resilience monitoring and reporting framework. Research was undertaken by a team of University of Queensland researchers, working in partnership with key industry partners in North Queensland:

   • Wet Tropics Management Authority;
   • Terrain NRM Ltd.;
   • Aboriginal Rainforest Council;
   • Girringun Aboriginal Corporation;
   • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; and 
   • Queensland Department of Communities.

The framework provides guidance to these agencies for both their planning and reporting processes, and evaluation of progress in implementing actions related to the social aspects of their plans. This research moves the management of social resilience, which is an emerging area of interest for both natural resource managers and other agencies, from a set of assumptions to an evidence base.

Our approach to social resilience is that it relates to how individuals, communities and societies adapt, transform, and potentially become stronger when faced with environmental, social, economic or political challenges. We identified the key attributes of social resilience for Far North Queensland through a comprehensive and systematic literature review, research partner workshops, and six case studies focusing on recovery from major changes, and the building of resilience. The resulting analysis identifies six social resilience indicators:

   • People-place connections;
   • Knowledge, skills and learning;
   • Community networks;
   • Engaged governance;
   • Diverse and innovative economy; and
   • Community infrastructure.

We have identified sets of monitoring criteria which sit under each social resilience indicator and have populated some of these criteria with baseline data. However, there are data shortfalls with other criteria that will require additional primary data collection.

Working from results of our study, we propose that environmental management, and Aboriginal and social development organisations with regional responsibilities can choose to incorporate the social dimensions of resilience thinking in three ways. Their first option is to pursue their existing mandates in consciousness of social resilience characteristics, without trying to intervene. However, social knowledge may prompt some adaptation of existing management strategies. For instance, understanding local variations in people-place connections may influence their choices of communication strategies. A second option is to take advantage of resilience characteristics in management strategies, for instance to invoke strong people-place connections and recruit and support existing community networks towards stewardship behaviour. The third is to pursue organisational mandates in a new way that enhances social resilience simultaneously, for instance explicitly building a more diverse and innovative economy through new employment and business structures in environmental management.
Q-Index Code AX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Research Report
Collection: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
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Created: Mon, 31 Mar 2014, 08:03:30 EST by Professor Helen Ross on behalf of School of Agriculture and Food Sciences