Table 1. Comparing the five case studies regarding key factors for preparing the social-ecological system for change.

Social-ecological system  
Key factors

Building knowledge
Kristianstads Vattenrike (creation of the KV)   A new perspective on ecosystem management and integrated landscape-level solutions guided the development of knowledge. It included identifying knowledge gaps for managing the KV and initiating studies to fill them.   The emergence of the network in the mid-1980s connected actors with different interests. This included vertical links and horizontal links between government agencies, NGOs, the municipality, and landowners.   Leadership emerged that was important for connecting people, developing and communicating a vision of ecosystem management, and building trust and broad support for change.
The Everglades (ecosystem restoration)   A few key scientists were frustrated by continuing ecosystem degradation, which they tried to address in workshops. The ecosystem restoration (resilience) perspective guided modeling workshops in which information was synthesized and used to develop composite policies.   A network of scientists emerged in the late 1980s and formed the adaptive management group. In 1992, networking was extended into the management and political arenas to spread the ideas of the adaptive management group, link actor groups operating at different organizational levels, and represent different interests.   Leadership emerged that brought in a novel perspective of ecosystem resilience, built trust, and connected people. The leaders were weary of ongoing legal actions and wished to pursue alternative ways of management. They focused on ensuring the engagement of all groups, not just a few special interest groups.
The Northern Highlands Lake District (sustainable futures)   The polarization among different actor groups hinders the sharing of new ideas and innovations. However, a few bridging efforts are developing, and these could nucleate to provide the necessary institutions for building and sharing knowledge.   Networking at a regional scale that connects different groups of actors is poorly developed.   Leadership for collective action and ecosystem management at the regional level has not emerged. Instead, leadership has emerged for pursuing specific interests.
Mae Nam Ping Basin (sustainable water management)   Knowledge based on the ecosystem approach has been assimilated from a wide range of sources, and innovative ecosystems approaches exist but do not guide networking at the regional level.   Networking at the basin level is lacking. Instead, networks that serve and protect specific interests are developing.   Leadership for collective action and ecosystem management at the basin level has not emerged. Instead, leadership has emerged for pursuing specific interests.
Goulburn-Broken Catchment (sustainable agriculture)   There was a lack of innovation that made it impossible to explore new configurations of the system, in particular, ways to address ecosystem processes. Building knowledge to support the status quo approach to ecosystem management was emphasized.   Networks emerged that connected people and interests at different levels. These networks were later formalized into decision-making and -implementing organizations.   Leadership did emerge for collective action at the catchment level, but not to provide a novel approach to ecosystem management.