Diagram from Dept of Interior Adaptive Management Technical Guide
Adaptive management could be a component of a new planning rule. In previous posts we’ve discussed the need for adaptive governance. We’ve discussed the legal challenges. In a previous discussion thread, Martin points out what some consider a flaw in the 2005/2008 planning rule, where we “simultaneously deep six NEPA (at plan level) while forwarding some ill-defined adaptive management/EMS framework.” But is it possible to make the commitment to adaptive management? Does the Forest Service have the management and science capacity?
“Examination of existing literature on the implementation of adaptive management by the USDA Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest offers a few key lessons, however it also raises many interesting questions that cannot be answered with existing data. All of the literature indicates that the designation of areas devoted to adaptive management was not a successful strategy for promoting adaptive management. It appears that only one adaptive management area actually implemented anything that could be called adaptive management, and in that one case, the administrative designation does not appear to have been an important causal factor – instead, it appears that the designation occurred because of innovative research that was already occurring at the site.” p. 17
Here is a presentation from a 2005 conference from Forest Service research scientist Bernard Bormann on adaptive management in the Northwest Forest Plan. Here and here are some additional publications.
In his presentation, Bormann says that adaptive management is harder than they first thought because adaptive management was never considered a “core business”, and most adaptive management areas are now idle. There are institutional barriers including lack of leadership, low budgets, and lack of learning structures. One idea he has is that the next generation of plans might contain “learning objectives.”
There are many compelling reasons for the Forest Service to move from an “event driven” planning model (where large plan revision efforts occur every 15 years) to a more “continuous” planning model. NFMA itself says that the planning rule should “insure research on and (based on continous monitoring and assessment in the field) evaluation of the effects of each management system to the end that it will not produce substantial and permanent impairment of the productivity of the land.” 16 USC 1604(g)(3)(C) What will it take to successfully implement this requirement?