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Designing Collaborative Processes for Adaptive Management: Four Structures for Multistakeholder Collaboration

Jennifer D. Pratt Miles, Meridian Institute


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Parties should consider a collaborative approach to scientific inquiry and learning when there are multiple jurisdictions, resource users, and viewpoints about the best way to manage a social-ecological system. A collaborative process provides a forum for scientists, managers, and other stakeholders to raise and explain concerns, articulate management goals, and suggest strategies to address concerns and management actions to achieve goals. Collaborative problem solving engages parties in dialogue that facilitates understanding of different perspectives and creates an opportunity to reframe problems as hypotheses to be tested through the adaptive management process.

I review four potential structures for multistakeholder collaboration that have been used by medium- to large-scale adaptive management programs in the U.S., and identify factors to consider when determining if one of these structures would be appropriate for a particular situation. These mechanisms include: establishing a Federal Advisory Committee, forming a multistakeholder body convened by a nonfederal entity, creating a body through legislation or cooperative agreement, and seeking an exemption from the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). When designing a collaborative process, parties should consider the degree of collaborative decision making desired, amount of resources that will be required, length of time necessary to design and establish the group, who will make decisions, and how decisions will be made.

Key words

adaptive management; collaboration; collaborative process; ecosystem management; natural resource management; stakeholder

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