Journal article

On April 2nd, 2007 a 12. m tsunami struck Simbo, a relatively remote island in Western Province, Solomon Islands. Although Simbo's population continues to depend on their own food production and small-scale governance regimes regulate access to resources, the island's way of life over the last century has increasingly been affected by processes associated with globalization. In this context of a rapidly globalizing world, this article examines the island's resilience and vulnerability to the tsunami and the adaptive capacities that enabled the response and recovery. The tsunami completely destroyed two villages and damaged fringing coral reefs, but casualties were low and social-ecological rebound relatively brisk. By combining social science methods (household surveys, focus group and ethnographic interviews) and underwater reef surveys we identify a number of countervailing challenges and opportunities presented by globalization that both nurture and suppress the island's resilience to high amplitude, low-frequency disturbances like tsunamis. Analysis suggests that certain adaptive capacities that sustain general system resilience come at the cost of more vulnerability to low-probability hazards. We discuss how communities undergoing increasingly complex processes of change must negotiate these kinds of trade-offs as they manage resilience at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Understanding the shifting dynamics of resilience may be critical for Pacific Island communities who seek to leverage globalization in their favor as they adapt to current social-ecological change and prepare for future large-scale ecological disturbances.

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