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Many studies on ecosystem resilience often lack sufficiently long time scales to determine potential cycles of landscape response. In this paper we review some examples on how palaeoecology has provided an important aid to modern ecology in understanding ecosystem resilience. We focus some of these ideas on two Holocene sites from Southern Spain (Zonar and Gador) where current plant diversity is very high. Both sites presented resilient pattern at centennial and millennial time scales with several stable phases. Vegetation in Zonar proved to be very sensitive to environmental changes, especially moisture availability while forest in Gador responded elastically to fire and drought to a threshold level when the forest recede to a more open landscape. We conclude that any serious attempt to understand ecosystem resilience should include the long-term perspective.