It is described by some as the most successful approach to complex natural resource challenges. Yet many of us are still struggling just to get our arms around the term “adaptive management.” Heralded by a growing following of practitioners as a flexible, science-based and stakeholder-driven approach to natural resource conservation, restoration and protection, adaptive management is generating quite a buzz. Evidence of this buzz is everywhere – from the Everglades of Florida, to the Maya Forest of Guatemala, to the tussock grasslands of New Zealand
Should we really begin our work with a hypothesis rather than a proposed solution? Will clients and colleagues buy this idea of learning from experimentation and adapting management strategies as we go? Can science and management truly come together to successfully protect and restore ecosystems well into the ever-changing future?
In this issue of Leaf Litter, we begin to address some of these questions. We talk with Dr. Barry Gold, former Chief of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, who put adaptive management theory to practice with the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program. If you are one of many readers confused about the difference between active and passive adaptive management, take a look at our simple clarification. For recommended reading material and web sites containing links to programs using adaptive management, check out our list of resources.
We hope this issue of Leaf Litter begins to shed some light on what is emerging as one of the most exciting approaches to ecological restoration, conservation planning and regenerative design. As always, we welcome your feedback.