Summary: Copyright © 2004 by the author(s). Published here under licence by The Resilience Alliance.
Tompkins, E. L. and W. N. Adger. 2004. Does adaptive management of natural resources enhance
resilience to climate change? Ecology and Society 9(2): 10. [online] URL:
Does Adaptive Management of Natural Resources Enhance
Resilience to Climate Change?
Emma L. Tompkins and W. Neil Adger
ABSTRACT. Emerging insights from adaptive and community-based resource management suggest that building
resilience into both human and ecological systems is an effective way to cope with environmental change
characterized by future surprises or unknowable risks. We argue that these emerging insights have implications
for policies and strategies for responding to climate change. We review perspectives on collective action for
natural resource management to inform understanding of climate response capacity. We demonstrate the
importance of social learning, specifically in relation to the acceptance of strategies that build social and
ecological resilience. Societies and communities dependent on natural resources need to enhance their capacity to
adapt to the impacts of future climate change, particularly when such impacts could lie outside their experienced
coping range. This argument is illustrated by an example of present-day collective action for community-based
coastal management in Trinidad and Tobago. The case demonstrates that community-based management
enhances adaptive capacity in two ways: by building networks that are important for coping with extreme events
and by retaining the resilience of the underpinning resources and ecological systems.