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Measuring rural community resilience: Case studies in NZ and Vermont, USA

January 2021

Publication: Ecology and Society
Author(s): P. Payne, W. Kaye-Blake, A. Kelsey, M. Brown, M. Niles

Methods for assessing community resilience have focused predominantly on disaster recovery. There is a need for quantitative measurement tools for assessing community resilience to slow-moving change such as rural depopulation or climate change. Our research provides a proof of concept across two diverse contexts, New Zealand and Vermont, USA, that community resilience can be quantified and broken down into dimensions of resilience. We assessed how 8 communities across 2 countries perceive resilience and compared their perceptions with indicators of resilience in the form of official statistics. Resilience indicators were found to be weakly related or unrelated to community perceptions of resilience. This result suggests that the proposed method for measuring resilience can be used across contexts, but that there is not one type of resilience that is the key to higher levels of overall resilience. It also suggests that the two proxy measures of resilience, i.e., community perceptions and indicators, do not provide a consistent picture of resilience, raising the question of which is a more accurate measure.

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