As the issue of climate change becomes increasingly present in our daily lives so will the term resiliency. In reference to climate change, however, it is scientifically referred to as ecological resilience. This term is defined as the ability for an ecosystem to respond and recover from disturbance. Ecosystems that recover quickly from disturbance have high resiliency and conversely those that do not recover quickly have low resiliency. Ecological resilience is an important facet to conservation and as such ADK must recognize it in our own efforts.
In nature, disturbance is an ongoing natural process. Events like floods, insect outbreaks, and wildfires are all examples of natural disturbances. Some environments rely on disturbance. There are many species of cone producing trees in the Pinus genus whose seed cones will only spread and germinate if they are set on fire. Many dry conifer forests in the western United States need wildfires to maintain themselves as forests. Every environment has a certain limit to the amount disturbance it can handle though. Many ecosystems globally are at risk of severe damage because natural disturbance is being coupled with intense destructive human activity and anthropogenically induced climate change. Human activity and climate change are recognized as forms of disturbance and together they test the limits of ecosystems’ ecological resilience. Ecosystems that normally can handle natural disturbances become overwhelmed when faced with these added pressures and those that are unable to cope with the pressures readily fall into disarray. Species populations dwindle or go extinct, habitat quality degrades, and biodiversity suffers as a result.
Conservation organizations worldwide are recognizing that lands with high resiliency and high ecological significance should be targeted as high priority for protection. The reason for this is because lands with higher resiliency will respond and adapt to climate change better than others. The ability of an ecosystem to be resilient is determined by 4 elements: Latitude, Resistance, Precariousness, and Panarchy.