|Title||The adaptive decision-making process as a tool for integrated natural resource management: focus, attitudes, and approach|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2001|
|Authors||Lal P., Lim-Applegate H., Scoccimarro M.|
|Keywords||adaptive decision making process, adaptive learning, decision support system, integrated natural resource management, participation|
Presents an adaptive decision-making process (ADMP), illustrating its application in two natural resources management case studies.
Integrated approaches to managing complex natural resource issues are seen to be more effective than single-disciplinary approaches that rely substantially on reductionist philosophies. This article argues for increased focus on human and human-nature interactions and decision-making within these integrated approaches rather than on the resource itself. A four-phase adaptive decision making process (ADMP) is proposed, which is claimed to support this integrative process of learning. Two projects from Fiji and Thailand are used to illustrate the ADMP in practice. The process demonstrates the need for (i) behavioural change among stakeholders to allow for effective planning, research and implementation; (ii) a constructivist approach; (iii) rigorous cross-disciplinary research; (iii) active stakeholder participation; (iv) dialectic decision-making processes that accommodate multiple stakeholder views and incomplete information and understandings; and (v) regular monitoring and adjustment of management strategies, adapting decision-making according to the specific results or outcomes obtained. ADMP is challenged by stakeholder conflict over the nature of problems and the expected outcomes, research and development required, and the scale at which management should occur. Time, resources and commitment are necessary.
Incomplete information and understanding is fundamental to managing complex resource management issues. Adaptive learning processes acknowledge this reality by creating timely monitoring and evaluating processes, along with building in the flexibility required to adjust strategies and decision-making according to emerging circumstances. These circumstances occur at different scales, and therefore sensitivity to issues of scale is another fundamental aspect of adaptive learning processes. This article points out that the nature of complex natural resource management problems demand that appropriate responses and decision-making is based on a constructed reality, generated by a collective group of stakeholders. This is a significant shift from past approaches that have attempted to isolate or reduce natural resource issues down to ‘manageable pieces’ where outcomes can supposedly be determined. This shift places the focus of adaptive learning more squarely toward understanding and managing the uncertainty of human and human-nature interactions, rather than attempting to ‘manage the resource.’