Conceptualising, Evaluating and Reporting Social Resilience in Vulnerable Regional and Remote Communities Facing Climate Change in Tropical Queensland

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Dale, Allan
Vella, Karen
Cottrell, Alison
Pert, Petina
Stevenson, Bob
King, David
Boon, Helen
Whitehouse, Hilary
Hill, Ro
Babbacan, Hurriyet
Thomas, Melanie
Gooch, Margaret
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Regional and remote communities in tropical Queensland are among Australia’s most vulnerable in the face of climate change. At the same time, these socially and economically vulnerable regions house some of Australia’s most significant biodiversity values. Past approaches to terrestrial biodiversity management have focused on tackling biophysical interventions through the use of biophysical knowledge. An equally important focus should be placed on building regional-scale community resilience if some of the worst biodiversity impacts of climate change are to be avoided or mitigated.
Despite its critical need, more systemic or holistic approaches to natural resource management have been rarely trialed and tested in a structured way. Currently, most strategic interventions in improving regional community resilience are ad hoc, not theory-based and short term. Past planning approaches have not been durable, nor have they been well informed by clear indicators. Research into indicators for community resilience has been poorly integrated within adaptive planning and management cycles. This project has aimed to resolve this problem by:

Reviewing the community and social resilience and adaptive planning literature to reconceptualise an improved framework for applying community resilience concepts; Harvesting and extending work undertaken in MTSRF Phase 1 to identifying the learnings emerging from past MTSRF research; Distilling these findings to identify new theoretical and practical approaches to the application of community resilience in natural resource use and management; Reconsidering the potential interplay between a region’s biophysical and social planning processes, with a focus on exploring spatial tools to communicate climate change risk and its consequent environmental, economic and social impacts; and Trialling new approaches to indicator development and adaptive planning to improve community resilience, using a sub-regional pilot in the Wet Tropics. In doing so, we also looked at ways to improve the use and application of relevant spatial information.

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