Resilience and law in the platte river basin social-ecological system: Past, present, and future

Hannah E. Birgé, Craig R. Allen, Robin Kundis Craig, Dirac Twidwell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


A characteristic of the Anthropocene is an acceleration in the rate of change of many global environmental resources, including loss of biodiversity and increased freshwater use. However, societal response to accelerated environmental change often does little to prevent the undesirable and sudden social-ecological system changes that occur in response to relatively incremental resource depletion. Resilience theory provides a framework for evaluating the interactions among social-ecological systems and the policies meant to guide them toward desirable outcomes. This chapter examines the resilience of the Platte River Basin system through time, assessing linkages among environmental change and governmental institutions, policies, and geophysical realities of the region during three distinct social-ecological regimes: pre-European settlement, heavy modification of the river and adjacent land, and the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP). Policy guided by resilience theory accommodates the potential for rapid, nonlinear change characteristic of complex systems such as the Platte River Basin. With increasingly extreme floods and droughts predicted for the Great Plains in coming decades as climate change progresses, a resilience approach to policy and decision- making will contribute to desirable outcomes for people and nature in the next iteration of the Platte River Basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPractical Panarchy for Adaptive Water Governance
Subtitle of host publicationLinking Law to Social-Ecological Resilience
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783319724720
ISBN (Print)9783319724706
StatePublished - Apr 18 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive governance
  • Adaptive law
  • Climate change
  • Resilience
  • Resilience assessment
  • Restoration
  • Water management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Engineering
  • General Environmental Science


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