Multi-scale and multi-level dynamics shape the resilience and sustainability of the Columbia River Basin, USA

Brian C. Chaffin, Alexander K. Fremier, Barbara Cosens, Robin K. Craig

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Columbia River Basin of the United States and Canada is a prime landscape to explore the ever-changing expressions of social–ecological system resilience, both historically and in real time. A resilience lens clearly illuminates the multi-scale and multi-level structure of the basin and places an emphasis on the importance of processes and relationships that cross these multiple levels and scales, supporting or inhibiting resilience in the basin across both space and time. In this chapter, we briefly review the multiple histories and contexts of Columbia River Basin. Next, we turn to the present and multiple potential futures of the riverine landscape, given the backdrop of climatic and societal change. We explore how multiple measures and characterisations of river basin resilience influence and inform options for navigating contemporary and historic dynamics as they interact with the hydrologic impacts of climate change. By leveraging a resilience lens to analyse past dynamics of disturbance, trajectories of societal change and current social–ecological restoration efforts underway in the basin, we begin the process of identifying those trajectories that may provide space to navigate inevitable yet surprising change towards a sustainable future for the multiple peoples and ecosystems that make up riverine landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResilience and Riverine Landscapes
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780323917162
ISBN (Print)9780323972055
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Columbia River Basin
  • Columbia River Treaty
  • Dam removal
  • Resilience
  • Salmon


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