SYMP 3-1 - Barriers and bridges to the integration of social-ecological resilience and law

Monday, August 8, 2016: 1:30 PM
Grand Floridian Blrm D, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Craig R. Allen, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, Olivia Green, Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Ahjond Garmestani, US Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH, J.B. Ruhl, College of Law, Vanderbilt University, Tony Arnold, School of Law, University of Louisville, Lance Gunderson, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, Barb Cosens, University of Idaho, David Angeler, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Brian C. Chaffin, College of Forestry & Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

There is a fundamental rift between how ecologists and lawyers view uncertainty. In the study of ecology, uncertainty is a catalyst for exploration, the raison d'être. However, uncertainty is antithetical to the rule of law. This incongruence is particularly troubling in environmental management, where the dissonance between law and ecology becomes apparent. Rather than acknowledge uncertainties in management actions, legal frameworks often force a spurious certitude in linking cause and effect.


Although adaptive management has been developed to confront scientific uncertainty, laws and legal wrangling can be obstacles to implementation. We recommend resilience-based ecosystem governance—adaptive governance—as a concept to begin bridging the rift between law and ecology.