Summary - Why Is Resilience Important?

Ecological resilience, the ability of a system to maintain structure, function, and relationships while undergoing pressure to change, was introduced by C.S. Holling in 1973. It is a concept that focuses on how a system reacts to changes and disturbance. Research since Holling’s foundational 1973 paper has applied resilience theory to many complex systems such as human societies, economies, cybersecurity, the human brain, and many more. Persistence and absorption are responses of a system faced with change. If a system can no longer absorb disturbance then it will shift to an alternative state with new structure, functions, and relationships. The ball-in-cup model can help us visualize a system undergoing change as its resilience is overcome and it transitions to a new regime. Concepts from ecological resilience give us the ability to characterize diverse, complex systems as dynamic, self-organizing systems that can absorb change or transition to an alternative state. In an era of global unprecedented change, concepts of ecological resilience are applied across the globe to maintain and conserve our life support systems provided by nature.