• Evolving conceptions of the role of large dams in social-ecological resilience

      Hammersley, Mia A.; Scott, Christopher; Gimblett, Randy; Univ Arizona, Coll Law; Univ Arizona, Sch Nat Resources & Environm (Resilience Alliance, 2018)
      Rivers and riparian ecosystems have historically provided a range of beneficial goods and services to human societies. However, floodplains have also posed risks to the humans that came to rely upon them. Although riparian areas are among the most resource-rich and biodiverse ecosystems, they are also some of the most disturbed by human activity. Today, social and economic needs for water diverted off-stream are often pitted against the flow of water needed to maintain crucial instream ecological functions. The construction of dams has been a widely implemented method to control rivers for human purposes, particularly in the western United States. However, there is a growing movement to decommission dams, as stakeholders begin to recognize the ultimate value of restoring ecosystem services, including cultural ecosystem services; indeed, their restoration may be necessary to ensure lasting systemic resilience. Broader questions of dam decommissioning in the United States are receiving increasing attention by scholars and practitioners alike. In this paper, we adapt and apply seminal concepts from the adaptive cycle framework and cultural ecosystem services, particularly for Native Nations, and thereby assess the unfolding case of decommissioning and restoration on the Elwha River in northwest Washington State. The empirical evidence indicates that dam removal coincided with scalar and temporal alignment of multiple adaptive cycles and contributed to both short and long-term resilience. Further, the Elwha case represents an extremely important precedent in the evolution of river management practices, in which stakeholder-based collaborative governance incorporated knowledge coproduction and regulatory maneuvering to successfully overcome obstacles inherent in both dam decommissioning and subsequent restoration. We conclude by reflecting on lessons of broader relevance beyond the specific case of the Elwha.
    • Lessons learned from synthetic research projects based on the ostrom workshop frameworks

      Cox, M.; Gurney, G.G.; Anderies, J.M.; Coleman, E.; Darling, E.; Epstein, G.; Frey, U.J.; Nenadovic, M.; Schlager, E.; Villamayor-Tomas, S.; et al. (Resilience Alliance, 2021)
      A generalized knowledge of social-ecological relationships is needed to address current environmental challenges. Broadly comparative and synthetic research is a key method for establishing this type of knowledge. To date, however, most work on social-ecological systems has applied idiosyncratic methods to specific systems. Several projects, each based on the frameworks developed by Elinor Ostrom and colleagues, stand out for their application of consistent methods across a broad range of cases. In this paper we compare seven of these projects and draw conclusions regarding their potential benefits and the challenges that scholars can expect in conducting this type of research. The two main challenges that we identified are (1) the collective-action dilemmas that collaborators face in producing and maintaining the social and technical infrastructure that is needed for such projects; and (2) balancing complexity and comparability in the structure of the databases used and the associated methods for characterizing complex social-ecological cases. We discuss approaches for meeting these challenges, and present a guiding checklist of questions for project design and implementation to provide guidance for future broadly comparative research. © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by the Resilience Alliance.