Barriers and bridges to the integration of social-ecological resilience and law

Olivia Odom Green, Ahjond S. Garmestani, Craig R. Allen, Lance H. Gunderson, J. B. Ruhl, Craig A. Arnold, Nicholas A.J. Graham, Barbara Cosens, David G. Angeler, Brian C. Chaffin, C. S. Holling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


There is a fundamental difference between the ways in which ecologists and lawyers view uncertainty: in the study of ecology, uncertainty provides a catalyst for exploration, whereas uncertainty is antithetical to the rule of law. This issue is particularly troubling in environmental management, where the tensions between law and ecology become apparent. Rather than acknowledge uncertainties in management actions, legal frameworks often force a false sense of certainty in linking cause and effect. While adaptive management has been developed to deal with uncertainty, laws and legal wrangling can be obstacles to implementation. In this article, we recommend resilience-based governance - "adaptive governance" - as a means to begin bridging the gap between law and ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-337
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


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