Do you feel tension? No, not emotional tension, the intellectual kind. Does intellectual tension invigorate you? It invigorates us at Save the Redwoods League. There is a debate among conservationists: should our goal be sustainability or resilience?
At Save the Redwoods League, we protect ancient redwood groves to help sustain the planet. Redwood forests are, perhaps, the greatest carbon sink on the planet. So, we are a sustainability organization.
Yet, we also study the redwood forest and use the results to guide our restoration work, thus helping the resilience of the redwood forest as the earth and its climate undergo change.
Our conservation work addresses both sustainability and resiliency.
The tension between these two approaches is the subject of Andrew Zolli’s thought-provoking article, “Good-bye Sustainability, Hello Resilience,” in the Spring 2013 issue of Conservation Magazine.
According to Zolli, sustainability advocates assert that humans should seek a lasting equilibrium with our planet by employing “the right mix of incentives, technology substitutions, and social change.” In contrast, Zolli argues that chasing sustainability is futile. The planet is always changing and always trying to adapt to change. “(W)here sustainability aims to put the world back into balance, resilience looks for ways to manage an imbalanced world,” Zolli writes.
Which approach is best? The League employs both. Our work is a constant experiment; we recognize the tension and use it to motivate our work. Protecting the redwood forest requires a dual focus, a focus on both sustainability and resilience.
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