12 - Keeping ecological resilience afloat in cross-scale turbulence: an indigenous social movement navigates change in Indonesia  pp. 299-327

Keeping ecological resilience afloat in cross-scale turbulence: an indigenous social movement navigates change in Indonesia

By Janis B. Alcorn et al.

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Introduction

A resilient ecosystem is one that will retain the ability to reorganize and renew itself without loss of function or diversity when disturbed, if disturbance is managed adaptively (Holling, 1992) – i.e., if management keeps disturbance within certain bounds and/or management is prepared to react to unexpected disturbance in ways that sustain resilience.

Safeguarding resilience requires appropriate management decisions by people using their society's cultural norms and institutions at different (small and large) scales. Conflict between these scales sometimes leads to clashing management decisions, and subsequently an erosion of resilience. Over time, changes in social and political conditions as well as population sizes, technologies, incentives, and values can also result in this erosion unless societies recognize and respond to negative ecological feedback by modifying their management institutions. Changes also create conflict amongst different management levels (national, regional, and local) and/or between social groups; these conflicts can only be resolved through political action. Making responsive management regime adjustments in time to avert damage is not easy, however. Cross-scale conflict between national and local institutions creates turbulence, and so does political change, often holding ecological resilience hostage. A better understanding of effective social movements that promote positive changes in response to ecological feedback is fundamental for understanding and maintaining the resilience of Earth's ecosystems.

Our case study of the Dayak people's social movement in Indonesia offers insights into how the erosion of ecological resilience can be countered by social renewal.

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