Adaptive management seeks to aggressively use management intervention
as a tool to strategically probe the functioning of an ecosystem. Interventions
are designed to test key hypotheses about the functioning of the ecosystem.
This approach is very different from a typical management approach of 'informed
trial-and-error' which uses the best available knowledge to generate a
risk-averse, 'best guess' management strategy, which is then changed as
new information modifies the 'best guess'. Adaptive management identifies
uncertainties, and then establishes methodologies to test hypothese concerning
those uncertainties. It uses management as a tool not only to change the
system, but as a tool to learn about the system. It is concerned with the
need to learn and the cost of ignorance, while traditional management is
focused on the need to preserve and the cost of knowledge.
There are several processes both scientific and social which are vital
components of adaptive management:
The achievement of these objectives requires an open management process
which seeks to include past, present and future stakeholders. Adaptive
management needs to at least maintain political openness, but usually it
needs to create it. Consequently, adaptive management must be a social
as well as scientific process. It must focus on the development of new
institutions and institutional strategies just as much as it must focus
upon scientific hypotheses and experimental frameworks. Adaptive management
attempts to use a scientific approach, accompanied by collegial hypotheses
testing to build understanding, but this process also aims to enhance institutional
flexibility and encourage the formation of the new institutions that are
required to use this understanding on a day-to-day basis.
management is linked to appropriate temporal and spatial scales
management retains a focus on statistical power and controls
use of computer models to build synthesis and an embodied ecological consensus
use embodied ecological consensus to evaluate strategic alternatives
communicate alternatives to political arena for negotiation of a selection
Actual policy implementation is a process grounded in the local. It
depends upon local constraints, the present state of local institutions,
and the personalities of key people. Any policy exercise must seek to transfer
knowledge and understanding to local individuals, but that is not all it
must do. It must also develop institutional flexibility by encouraging
the formation of networks of individuals which bridge institutional boundaries.
These groups of individuals can act as agents of reform within their institutions,
and the nucleus around which new institutions can crystallize.
Holling, C. S. (1978). Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management.
out of print.
Walters, C. J. (1986). Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources.
New York, McGraw Hill.
Lee, K. (1993). Compass and gyroscope: integrating science and politics
for the environment. Washington, D.C., Island Press.
L. H., C. S. Holling and S. Light. 1995. Barriers & Bridges to the
Renewal of Regional Ecosystems. Columbia University Press.
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