Adaptive Management

Once a policy is chosen, then two implementation activities are launched: management actions and monitoring. The implementation phase is the experimental phase, in which hypotheses are challenged, that is, the policy is subject to invalidation.

The design of management actions covers a wide range of options, in terms of the scientific rigor. In an experiment, all sources of variation are identified, and used in the design. In the adaptive sense, some of the variations can be accounted for, but unforeseen dynamics are likely to appear. Two types of adaptive management have been identified, active and passive. Actively adaptive actions probe the sources of variation; hence, actions cover a wide range of possible treatments in order to uncover a wide range of system response. The passively adaptive approach lets natural processes provide the sources of variation.

Monitoring should be the means by which policies are tested and evaluated, rather than collecting data for the sake of gathering information. Monitoring is the way in which policies are put at risk of invalidation. It should involve key variables in the system and choice of these key variables is critical. Variables to be monitored are critical ecosystem processes identified in the modeling exercises. The information developed from monitoring should be useful for future learning. The usual limitations on fiscal and human resources should not decide what variables to monitor, but be used as way of forcing the important variables into monitoring.

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