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Collaborative Adaptive Management: Challenges and Opportunities

Lynn Scarlett, Resources for the Future


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Collaborative adaptive management merges three essential features of twenty-first century conservation and resource management—science, collaboration, and a focus on results. These features intersect in conservation and resource management contexts characterized by: (1) high degrees of uncertainty; (2) complexity resulting from multiple variables and non-linear interactions; (3) interconnectedness—among issues, across landscapes, and between people and place; and (4) persistent, possibly dramatic, change. In this context, many resource management decisions present communication challenges, information challenges, coordination challenges, and action challenges. Collaboration and adaptive management, in part, are responses to these challenges. Many resource management questions are technical and complex. But policies and project decisions have distributional effects and often involve trade-offs. These effects raise issues about the respective roles of scientists, technical experts, and the public; underscore the relevance of adaptive decision frameworks, and heighten the importance of collaborate decision making. This essay examines collaborative adaptive management in this context from the perspective of a decisionmaker.

Key words

adaptive management; collaboration; collaborative adaptive management; conservation; science and decision making

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