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Social-ecological resilience in remote mountain communities: toward a novel framework for an interdisciplinary investigation

Rike Stotten, University of Innsbruck, Department of Sociology
Lisa Ambrosi, University of Innsbruck, Department of Ecology
Erich Tasser, Eurac Research, Institute for Alpine Environment
Georg Leitinger, University of Innsbruck, Department of Ecology


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Globally, mountain areas are facing numerous social, economic, and ecological challenges. The interplay of natural and social factors makes them complex social-ecological systems. To investigate a mountain setting in the Austrian Alps, we developed the resilient livelihood framework (RLF), relying on the sustainable livelihood framework and integrating the community resilience and ecosystem services concepts. This novel RLF highlights the basic function of natural capital for economic, social, cultural, and political capital and displays the social valorization and demand of single-ecosystem services. The RLF serves to examine the social-ecological complexities with a set of drivers, capitals, livelihood strategies, and outcomes of two remote mountain villages, Obergurgl and Vent in the Upper Ötztal Valley (Tyrol, Austria). Here, qualitative and quantitative descriptions enable comprehensive insights into the complex interplay of the social and ecological spheres of both communities. Its output has been densified and calculated with a modified Shannon-Wiener Index that revealed a higher social-ecological resilience for the village of Vent than Obergurgl. The study bridges various disciplines and contributes to the theoretical and practical advancement of a resilience framework through the application to a case study site by combining ecological and sociological approaches. The application study can serve as a pilot for similar applications in remote mountain areas to support the decision making of local managers and stakeholders.

Key words

community resilience; ecosystem services; forms of capital; Shannon-Wiener Index; sustainable rural livelihood framework

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087