New Publication! Cultivating Collaborative Resilience to Social and Ecological Change

Authors from CFRI and our sister SWERI, ERI, came together to analyze how collaborative groups adapt and remain resilient to internal and external disruptions (e.g., turnover, biophysical disturbances, legal challenges, policy changes) in a new paper. How do disruptions impact collaborative progress and performance, and how do barriers constrain adaptation? Authors used information from the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) and other US public forest restoration collaboratives to answer these questions. They drew on a literature review and synthesis, as well as examples from focus groups and surveys. Collaboratives are part of a larger context and can be constrained by numerous barriers. The authors developed a conceptual model of the forces and factors that affect adaptation and resilience of collaborative groups. Collaboratives face big barriers when they don’t have adequate resources. Collaborative groups also run up against entrenched agency culture, where there may be a lack of collaborative commitment or incentives. Authors found that collaboratives employ several strategies to address internal and external disruptions, including facilitated dialogue and field trips, co-development of documents, and flexibility.

The two key policy recommendations are: 1) Expand funding for collaborative planning and capacity building, not just work on the ground; and 2) Change agency culture to encourage commitment to collaboration.

The two key practice recommendations for collaboratives are: 1) Codevelop and periodically revisit boundary objects (e.g., tangible objects like models, reports, guidelines, contracts); and 2) Conduct frequent self-assessments of collaborative resilience.