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Practitioner Perceptions of Adaptive Management Implementation in the United States

Melinda Harm Benson, University of New Mexico
Asako B. Stone, Central New Mexico Community College


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Adaptive management is a growing trend within environment and natural resource management efforts in the United States. While many proponents of adaptive management emphasize the need for collaborative, iterative governance processes to facilitate adaptive management, legal scholars note that current legal requirements and processes in the United States often make it difficult to provide the necessary institutional support and flexibility for successful adaptive management implementation. Our research explores this potential disconnect between adaptive management theory and practice by interviewing practitioners in the field. We conducted a survey of individuals associated with the Collaborative Adaptive Management Network (CAMNet), a nongovernmental organization that promotes adaptive management and facilitates in its implementation. The survey was sent via email to the 144 participants who attended CAMNet Rendezvous during 2007–2011 and yielded 48 responses. We found that practitioners do feel hampered by legal and institutional constraints: > 70% of respondents not only believed that constraints exist, they could specifically name one or more examples of a legal constraint on their work implementing adaptive management. At the same time, we found that practitioners are generally optimistic about the potential for institutional reform.

Key words

adaptive management; Collaborative Adaptive Management Network; natural resource management; organizational change; practitioners

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087