Managing for resilience? Examining management implications of resilience in southwestern National Forests

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The United States Forest Service 2012 Planning Rule prioritizes making lands resilient to climate change. Although researchers have investigated the history of “resilience” and its multiple interpretations, few have examined perceptions or experiences of resource staff tasked with implementing resilience. This study interviewed Forest Service staff in the Southwestern Region to evaluate how managers and planners interpret resilience as an agency strategy, execution of resilience in management, and climate change’s impact on perception of resilience. Interviewees identified resilience as a main driver of agency response to land management but, when applying the concept, experienced barriers including ambiguity; scale; management specificity versus broad, adaptive landscape approach; and lack of metrics or examples. Interviewees found restoring ecosystem function to promote resilience while planning for future changed landscapes difficult. They desired landscape-scale collaboration to understand how to operationalize the resilience directive. Our findings revealed obstacles and opportunities for resilience in a managerial context.

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