Adaptive management : harvesting the benefits while reducing the risks for ecological restoration projects
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Adaptive Management (AM) is an “approach to managing natural resources that emphasizes learning from the implementation of policies and strategies” (Allan & Curtis, 2005). The approach involves the monitoring and evaluation of hypotheses regarding system responses and/or the success of individual projects followed by integration of the findings into future efforts. It can be characterized as active (focused upon testing hypotheses) or passive (focused upon implementation). AM has been used by several federal and state agencies for the implementation of large-scale restoration efforts. This paper explores the use of AM in two large, regional water resources projects with state and federal agency involvement and significant ecological and economic resources at risk without intervention: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta in California and the Everglades Restoration in Florida. The paper explores potential avenues for further improvement of the AM efforts with an emphasis on: governance; establishment of networks to aid adaptive management, provisions for funding especially for active AM; cost-benefit analyses; and delegation of authority to allow for implementation of adaptive management.