Ecosystems and Disaster Resiliency: Contributions to a Holistic Theory of Recovery
August 2012 (VOL. 30, NO. 2)
Considerable research has focused on how pre-disaster actions degrade ecosystem resilience that exacerbates risk to human communities. In contrast, little is known about how ecosystem resilience benefits people during disaster recovery, and how pre- and post-disaster recovery planning and decisions affect ecosystem resilience. This article offers a critical review of the contributions of research and gaps in knowledge about ecosystem resiliency, and the role of pre-disaster recovery planning and post-disaster adaptive actions in protecting and restoring ecosystems. Critical dimensions of ecosystem protection in the context of recovery planning and adaptive actions are examined, including: impacts of degradation of ecosystem services; recovery strategies to sustain ecosystem services; and role of recovery planning in use of eco-science. Recommendations for future research are offered that cover the need to develop alternative interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks to improve knowledge to analyze and prescribe effective protection and restoration strategies, and to create decision support tools for scenario building and testing to improve pre-disaster recovery plans.