Jacobson C, Hughey K.FD, Allen W.J, Rixecker S., Carter R.W. 2009. Toward more reflexive use of adaptive management. Society and Natural Resources. 22


Develop and test a question framework for reflecting on adaptive management processes at key phases of learning

Geographic Focus: 


Key Findings: 

Adaptive management is essentially a learning process and is proposed as a way of dealing with uncertainty in social-ecological systems, with the key focus being on processes of experimentation and collaboration. This article attempts to bridge the gap between these two discourses by reviewing their roles in current practice. A framework is developed, based on the generally agreed steps of adaptive management, which poses key questions for reflection by practitioners when faced with uncertainty in contextual decision-making. This framework is tested among managers involved in various types and stages of projects. The question framework emphasises the importance of integrating both experimental and collaborative processes during all phases of learning.


Experimental and collaborative processes can be viewed in isolation when considering and undertaking adaptive management processes. This article points out however, that there are dangers inherent in this approach, particularly where experimental decision-making becomes removed from best available knowledge and stakeholder ‘buy-in.’ The question framework proposed is not restricted to project leaders, but could be used by various actors to assess learning at all levels and all stages of the learning process.