Reviewing the use of resilience concepts in forest sciences



Nikinmaa L, Lindner M, Cantarello E, Jump AS, Seidl R, Winkel G & Muys B (2020) Reviewing the use of resilience concepts in forest sciences. Current Forestry Reports, 6 (2), pp. 61-80.

Purpose of the review Resilience is a key concept to deal with an uncertain future in forestry. In recent years, it has received increasing attention from both research and practice. However, a common understanding of what resilience means in a forestry context, and how to operationalise it is lacking. Here, we conducted a systematic review of the recent forest science literature on resilience in the forestry context, synthesising how resilience is defined and assessed. Recent findings Based on a detailed review of 255 studies, we analysed how the concepts of engineering resilience, ecological resilience, and social-ecological resilience are used in forest sciences. A clear majority of the studies applied the concept of engineering resilience, quantifying resilience as the recovery time after a disturbance. The two most used indicators for engineering resilience were basal area increment and vegetation cover, whereas ecological resilience studies frequently focus on vegetation cover and tree density. In contrast, important social-ecological resilience indicators used in the literature are socio-economic diversity and stock of natural resources. In the context of global change, we expected an increase in studies adopting the more holistic social-ecological resilience concept, but this was not the observed trend. Summary Our analysis points to the nestedness of these three resilience concepts, suggesting that they are complementary rather than contradictory. It also means that the variety of resilience approaches does not need to be an obstacle for operationalisation of the concept. We provide guidance for choosing the most suitable resilience concept and indicators based on the management, disturbance and application context.

forest management; engineering resilience; ecological resilience; social-ecological resilience; disturbance; indicators

Current Forestry Reports: Volume 6, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2020
Publication date online11/02/2020
Date accepted by journal27/01/2020

People (1)


Professor Alistair Jump
Professor Alistair Jump

Dean of Natural Sciences, NS Management and Support