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Making adaptive governance work in biodiversity conservation: lessons in invasive alien aquatic plant management in Lake Biwa, Japan

Kentaro Miyanaga, Faculty of Business Administration, Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan
Katsuki Nakai, Lake Biwa Museum, Shiga Prefecture, Japan


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Invasive alien species are a serious threat to freshwater ecosystems and overall biodiversity. Although invasive alien species management in the form of environmental governance has often been practiced under an adaptive governance scheme, prevailing theoretical and practical difficulties must be solved to enhance policy effectiveness and outcomes. Our objective was to clarify how it is possible to make adaptive governance work in biodiversity conservation, especially invasive alien species management in freshwater ecosystems. To fulfill this objective, we investigated two analytical concepts—invasion management and adaptive governance—and studied a case of invasive alien aquatic plant management in Lake Biwa, Japan. The conclusion of our analysis and the lessons learned can be summarized as the following three points: First, whether learning processes are properly equipped by local environmental governance is critical for adaptive governance. We provide insights into three aspects of learning: the system where scientific knowledge is produced and shared for policy preparation, implementation, and evaluation; where social learning and processes that support social learning occur; and where a process of organizational learning occurs. Second, we discuss the role and function of government in adaptive governance, which indicates that interactive governance is possible even when a government initiates a governing process, and that an interactive governing structure would be fundamental for addressing social-ecological complexities and uncertainties. Third, the transition from symptomatic treatments toward precautionary actions for invasive alien species, which is essential for policy effectiveness and outcomes, can be fostered by an interactive governing structure. In addition, organizational learning can induce the transition, through which the competency trap caused by conformity bias in invasive alien species management could be avoided.

Key words

adaptive governance; biodiversity conservation; environmental governance; invasive alien species; Lake Biwa; Ludwigia grandiflora

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087