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A framework for ecosystem resilience in policy and practice: DECCA

Latham, Jim; Spode, Steve; Ayling, Sarah; Thomas, Rhian; Lindenbaum, Kirsty; Bellamy, Angelina Sanderson


Jim Latham

Steve Spode

Kirsty Lindenbaum


Ecosystem resilience is increasingly considered within political responses to environmental problems, and is a key element of recent environmental legislation in Wales. The actual mechanisms of ecosystem resilience are complex, making it difficult, from a management perspective, to meaningfully describe or report on them for ecosystems at a national scale. For this reason, the legislation and associated policies in Wales have taken a pragmatic approach, using environmental attributes that have previously been causally linked with ecosystem resilience as a framework for description and reporting. These attributes are diversity, extent, condition, connectivity, and adaptability, and are referred to as "DECCA". The framework has proved useful and influential, and provides a novel example of how established and relatively simple scientific principles can inform and put into practice legislation about complex environmental systems; the Welsh case serves as the first example of a national government implementing resilience policy. However, the attributes remain proxies for actual resilience, and there are knowledge gaps for converting theory to practice. These include fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms of resilience and related concepts such as environmental tipping points, and methodological issues such as how resilience can be quantified and confidently reported on. There is a need to develop a research framework for addressing these issues, linked to policy cycles to ensure new evidence and understanding are appropriately interpreted and adopted.


Latham, J., Spode, S., Ayling, S., Thomas, R., Lindenbaum, K., & Bellamy, A. S. (2021). A framework for ecosystem resilience in policy and practice: DECCA. Ecology and Society, 26(4),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 20, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2021
Journal Ecology and Society
Print ISSN 1708-3087
Electronic ISSN 1708-3087
Publisher Resilience Alliance
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 4
Article Number 31
Public URL