Catchment resilience is the capacity of a combined social ecological system, comprised of water, land, ecological resources and communities in a river basin, to deal with sudden shocks and gradual changes, and to adapt and self-organize for progressive change and transform itself for sustainability. This paper proposes that analysis of catchments as social ecological systems can provide key insights into how social and ecological dynamics interact and how some of the negative consequences of unsustainable resource use or environmental degradation can be ameliorated. This requires recognition of the potential for community resilience as a core element of catchment resilience, and moves beyond more structural approaches to emphasize social dynamics. The proposals are based on a review of social ecological systems research, on methods for analyzing community resilience, and a review of social science and action research that suggest ways of generating resilience through community engagement. These methods and approaches maximize insights into the social dynamics of catchments as complex adaptive systems to inform science and practice.
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