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Adaptive management: a framework to support sustainable forest management Scott-May, Cathy
Abstract: In the fall of 2003, Slocan Forest Products initiated a project to explore what would be required to utilize adaptive management (AM) as a foundation for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM). AM is the process by which a commitment to learning is used to adjust management strategies so as to better cope with change while simultaneously seeking to better understand how management goals can be achieved. An AM approach recognizes change as a constant factor so it is necessary to understand the root causes of what has, and may be changing. To do so requires learning how the economic, social and ecological systems are constantly moving through a cycle that involves change and reconfigurations in response to human attempts to manage them. If the system is resilient, then it can absorb a degree of change without a major reconfiguration. However, if the system is rigid and lacking resiliency, then change may result in a crisis that causes the system to flip to a different stability plane. For example, when one mill is closed in order for a company to reconfigure its operations to remain viable as an entity. Thus the first step is to understand the current state of the systems in terms of their existing resiliency. A desired concept of resiliency is then defined for each system, including an acceptable range of variation. This does not preclude society choosing to undergo a major reconfiguration, or that such a significant change is required in order to get the system to a point where it can be resilient. The concept of resiliency is then used to socially define sustainability across the three systems through an iterative process that considers trade-offs in terms of impacts to system resiliency within selected spatial and temporal scales. The desired concept of sustainability is described through management goals and objectives, with the associated uncertainties and risks translated into learning objectives. Various learning strategies are then assessed to determine the best vehicle to test management practices. A structured monitoring process is used to generate results, which are then evaluated in terms of their validity, relevance and significance. Through the evaluation process, monitoring information is combined with values, experience, training and intuitive thinking in order to achieve shared knowledge and derive meaning that is useful in developing recommendations for adaptations to management practices, the overall plan, etc. To be successful, AM also requires decision-makers to acknowledge that uncertainty is a given. Therefore, SFM plans need to recognize that reality and work within it, rather than planning to eliminate uncertainty. This has implications for not only how the problems are defined, but also the mandate given to those who are responsible for addressing the problems. A review of literature identified a high degree of failure for AM applications, partly due to AM being used for specific projects in absence of building the necessary adaptive culture within key institutions. As a result, a comprehensive AM approach has been developed to address the needs of a corporate forest company in relation to SFM. The resultant AM framework consists of: Corporate level strategies for developing and maintaining the necessary corporate culture to support effective use of AM; Program level approaches for incorporating AM principles into strategic, tactical and operational planning processes to create the necessary context for successful use of AM at the project-level. For example, the mobilizing force for implementing SFM policies, and; Project level assessment of opportunities/benefits/costs for utilizing various AM approaches on a project-by-project basis. Cathy Scott-May and Pat Field .
Scott-May, Cathy, Field, Pat. 2004. Adaptive management: a framework to support sustainable forest management. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2004MR137
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), Sustainable, Forestry, British, Columbia
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