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Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems [Paperback]

by Lance H. Gunderson, C. S. Holling
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1, 2001 1559638575 978-1559638579 1
The book examines theories (models) of how systems (those of humans, nature, and combined humannatural systems) function, and attempts to understand those theories and how they can help researchers develop effective institutions and policies for environmental management. The fundamental question this book asks is whether or not it is possible to get beyond seeing environment as a sub-component of social systems, and society as a sub-component of ecological systems, that is, to understand human-environment interactions as their own unique system. After examining the similarities and differences among human and natural systems, as well as the means by which they can be accounted for in theories and models, the book examines five efforts to describe human-natural systems. The point of these efforts is to provide the means of learning about those systems so that they can be managed adaptively. The final section of the book uses case studies to examine the application of integrated theories/models to the real world.

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Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems + Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World + Resilience Practice: Building Capacity to Absorb Disturbance and Maintain Function
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Editorial Reviews


“A wonderful and stimulating blend of theoretical and empirical perspectives on multiscale dynamic systems of humans and nature. This book brings together the diverse insights of some of the most creative and original thinkers on resilience and adaptive change in ecological and social systems, yet it is seamlessly integrated through coherent underlying principles. A triumph for Holling’s seminal concepts, and for the Resilience Alliance.” 
(Simon Levin Princeton University)

“Resilience, timing, adaptation—these are the three pillars upon which the emergent properties of interacting systems rest. When the systems are the economy and the environment, understanding of the relationships among these concepts is crucial. This volume does a better job of explaining how to manage both money and nature to ensure humanity’s long-term future than any other work I know of. Read and reflect.”
(John L. Casti Santa Fe Institute, United States, and Technical University of Vienna, Austria) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559638575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559638579
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings--Mix of Brilliance and Gobbly-Gook March 8, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
On balance, Resilience and the Behavior of Large-Scale Systems (Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) Series) is the better book but this one is the thicker heavier more math-laden pretender--the problem is they have their own citation cabal, and while the bibliography is much broader and deeper than the above recommended book, there are too many gaps and an excessive reliance on obscure formulas that I have learned over time tend to be smoke for "I don't really know but if I did, this is the formula.

Also published in 2002, also with 20 contributors, this book lost me on the math. As someone who watched political science self-destruct in the 1970's when "comparative statistics" replaced field work, foreign language competency, and actual historical and cultural understanding, and a real-world intelligence professional, I'd listen to these folks, but I would never, ever let them actually manage the totality.

The book is the outcome of a three year effort, the Resilience Network as they called themselves, and there are some definite gems in this book, but it is a rough beginning. Among other things, it tries to model simplicity instead of complexity, and continue to miss the important of true cost transparency as the product and service end-user point of sale level, and real-time science that cannot be manipulated by any one country or organization (Exxon did NOT make $40 billion in profit this year--that is a fraction of the externalized costs, roughly $12 against the future for every $3 paid at the pump--that level of public intelligence in the public interest in missing from this book).
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economics, Ecology, and Sociology Interactions June 21, 2003
By A Customer
This is the only book I know of which provides theoretical framework for sustainable development using integrated management of economic, ecological, and social systems. The theoretical frame work is based on hierarchy and complexity theories.
You do not want to miss reading and owning it. It belongs in the library of all future oriented executives, economists, ecologists, sociologists, business planners, and policy makers.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Forcing reality into a pre-conceived box November 12, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While the book reviews interesting insights about the stability of ecosystems and emphasizes that most preconceptions are invalid in one or another circumstance, it pushes a preconception of its own that is so abstract as to be nearly meaningless. Phenomena are forced into phases of a model even when the fit is unreasonable. The book reads as though the editors fell in love with a nice idea - and a pretty diagram - and proceeded to ignore subtleties and refinements that, if incorporated, could have had real value. One significant flaw is that the wasteland of a devastated ecosystem, such as an overgrazed scrubland, is conceived as the 'same' ecosystem as the mature one (rainforest) that preceded it, and that a 'cycle' will bring it back around - and this in contradiction to the book's own opening chapter. Some redemption is achieved by authors of later chapters, who do not fall into these traps.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable source December 4, 2012
By Johann
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The work of Gunderson and Holling is groundbreaking and well worth reading. It sheds considerable light on the similarities between social and ecological systems.
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