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A framework for ecosystem resilience in policy and practice: DECCA

Angelina Sanderson Bellamy, Department of Applied Sciences University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol Frenchay Campus, Bristol
Jim Latham, Evidence, Policy and Permitting Directorate, Natural Resource Wales
Steve Spode, Landscape, Nature and Forestry Division, Welsh Government
Sarah Ayling, Evidence, Policy and Permitting Directorate, Natural Resource Wales
Rhian Thomas, Evidence, Policy and Permitting Directorate, Natural Resource Wales
Kirsty Lindenbaum, Evidence, Policy and Permitting Directorate, Natural Resource Wales


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Ecosystem resilience is increasingly considered within political responses to environmental problems, and is a key element of recent environmental legislation in Wales. The actual mechanisms of ecosystem resilience are complex, making it difficult, from a management perspective, to meaningfully describe or report on them for ecosystems at a national scale. For this reason, the legislation and associated policies in Wales have taken a pragmatic approach, using environmental attributes that have previously been causally linked with ecosystem resilience as a framework for description and reporting. These attributes are diversity, extent, condition, connectivity, and adaptability, and are referred to as "DECCA". The framework has proved useful and influential, and provides a novel example of how established and relatively simple scientific principles can inform and put into practice legislation about complex environmental systems; the Welsh case serves as the first example of a national government implementing resilience policy. However, the attributes remain proxies for actual resilience, and there are knowledge gaps for converting theory to practice. These include fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms of resilience and related concepts such as environmental tipping points, and methodological issues such as how resilience can be quantified and confidently reported on. There is a need to develop a research framework for addressing these issues, linked to policy cycles to ensure new evidence and understanding are appropriately interpreted and adopted.

Key words

ecosystem resilience; policy implementation; Wales

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