Increasing attention has been paid to the potential of adaptive management for the management of natural resource systems under uncertainty, due to the capacity such an approach to provide information about the system being managed. The more successful cases of implementation to date appear to have occurred in less complex institutional environments, where there is more control over resource use and where the aim has been to reduce technical uncertainties associated with management. Adaptive management is increasingly suggested as an approach in more complex institutional environments where managers have less control. In such cases, it is suggested that the approach should aim to reduce the institutional as well as the technical uncertainties associated with the resource system. To do this, it is suggested that the concept of the resource system and of adaptive management should be broadened through the use of institutional analysis and development (IAD) frameworks. Broadening of the adaptive management concept shifts the focus from managing the resource system towards learning about the system in order to improve the outcomes of management actions. Such an adaptive learning approach has implications for the process of implementation. The implementation process should become more participatory, reducing uncertainties through local knowledge, gaining information about the institutional environment and involving stakeholders in learning about the resource system. Participation is also required for adaptive approaches because such approaches require flexibility and possible changes in management actions and regulations over time. Participation can also assist in the monitoring of the resource system and management process.
Marine Resources Assessment Group Ltd, London, UK, 20 pp.