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Opportunities for Collaborative Adaptive Management Progress: Integrating Stakeholder Assessments into Progress Measurement

Jim Berkley, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


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Collaborative Adaptive Management (CAM) program stakeholders informally assess program progress through subjective assessments regularly. Each stakeholder does this by individually selecting objective progress indicators based on their needs, values, and preferences. They do this even though there may be a stakeholder group agreed-on set of progress objectives. Individual stakeholder indicators may be a subset of the group set or outside of the agreed-on set. This is because many factors influence behavior, and stakeholders may act differently in group settings as opposed to individual settings. These assessments can provide valuable information about stakeholder needs that are not being met, and potential motivations for stakeholders circumventing a CAM process. They can also provide information, beyond the normal measures, about the importance of system components and relationships that are keys to progress and action. Progress is important to continued support for these publically funded CAM programs. The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (AMP) and the Missouri River Recovery Program (MRRP) were used to explore the idea of integrating stakeholder assessments into CAM progress measurement. A study using a framework with AMP stakeholders was conducted to measure progress, whereas examples from MRRP were used to explain how the framework could be used to understand real scenarios of stakeholder behavior related to unmet needs and individual measures of progress. Integration of stakeholder attitudes and behavior in CAM progress evaluation can yield important results. Stakeholders’ attitudes and corresponding behaviors can affect a CAM program’s progress. Gathering data on their attitudes can help decision makers understand stakeholders’ perceptions of progress and avoid potential blocks to progress.
There are differences among stakeholders in the indicators they consider as relevant to the assessment of progress. Elucidating these differences can provide useful information about system components and relationships that are important to public support of a CAM program and progress. One of the sources of differences in progress assessments among stakeholders comes from their diverse perceptions about the desired and current states of the social–ecological systems. Stakeholder behavior can be inconsistent between group and individual settings. Individually they may make plans, based on their assessments, that do not conform to the group plan because of their unique interests and preferences. The results of this study need to be further tested. The framework should be used through multiple cycles to determine whether the information gathered with this approach results in additional progress as compared with past approaches. In particular, it would be helpful to test whether gathering such information resulted in a decrease in stakeholders electing to go outside of the CAM process to get their needs met.

Key words

adaptive management, Adaptive Management Working Group, AMP, AMWG, attitudes, behavior, collaborative adaptive management, Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, Missouri River Recovery Program, MRRP, progress, stakeholders

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