Community resilience is the capacity of communities to adapt, function, and flourish through difficult and unexpected circumstances. The resources that communities have make them resilient.
An assessment of community resilience involves understanding what resources are available, and how they might be mobilized in response to change. Doing this can help communities be more prepared and therefore less vulnerable.
While it is well accepted that the diversity of local economies and the capacity of people, institutions, and communities to learn, innovate and adapt, play a central role in community resilience, the specific ways in which this applies to Albertan communities is still an open question. To answer it, we propose to analyse the level of vulnerability and resilience of three forest-dependent communities in Alberta. Final locations will be announced in a forthcoming study update.
Community selection is being made with consideration to the vulnerability of nearby forests to beetle outbreak, the degree of local dependence on the forest for livelihoods and well-being, input from TRIANet and fRI Research collaborators, and variety in community size and location. The selection of these locations does not mean that they are in a particularly vulnerable position as compared to other Albertan communities that will potentially be affected by the beetle.
Our research is built around two complementary approaches:
The first approach is qualitative in essence. Pending research ethics approval this approach will involve conducting document reviews, as well as interviews and focus groups with community, industry, and institutional stakeholders in varied roles linked to the resilience of our case study communities. The collected information will be analyzed through the lens of community resilience theories, and will help provide insights on social and ecological features that are relevant to fostering resilience in an Albertan context.
The second approach takes a more quantitative route. It will require collecting, through questionnaires, anonymous data about how people anticipate and cope with mountain pine beetle in their community. This will lead to the creation and analysis of a social map of collaborations regarding the issue, which will provide insights on how prepared the social and institutional structure is to foster innovation and adaptiveness, which are two important aspects of resilience.
This two step methodology will improve our understanding of what “resilience" means to an Albertan resource dependant community, and will lead to the identification of steps which may be taken to enhance this resilience not only in the case study communities, but also in many comparable communities across Alberta.