Resilience of social-ecological systems (SESs): a case study of water management in the Iraqi Marshlands




Dempster, Celeste

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The draining of the Iraqi Marshlands is an example of the reorganization of a linked social-ecological system (SES) following a collapse. The goal of this study was to examine the utility of resilience as a water management tool through a case study of the Marshlands. Using the Four-Step Framework by Walker et al. (2002), it analyzed the Marshlands through the metaphor of the adaptive cycle, explored three possible future scenarios, created two models to characterize the system, and reviewed the implications of the analysis for water management in the Marshlands and resilience. This study found that resilience, and the Framework, could offer new perspectives for managing complex SESs. However, resilience is not useful during times of intense violent conflict, like war. It also found that there are resilient pathways to help the Marshlands reorganize. However, the Marshlands are very vulnerable and require strong institutional support to keep them from disappearing.



resilience, Iraqi Marshlands, water management, social-ecological systems, marshes, Iraq