Challenges of Adaptive Management Reducing Vulnerabilities through Application of Adaptation Science

Adaptive management is the practice of adaptation science. There are many ways that adaptation processes can be managed. Figure 2 depicts linkages of adaptation science with adaptive management and adaptation options, and the following key questions help identify some of the challenges:

• What aspects of our understanding of climate variability and change provide us with the best adaptive practices to reduce our vulnerability? What are the significant gaps in our understanding?

• What approaches are available to help resource managers or users identify "win-win" or "no regrets" adaptation options? Which activities or sectors have the greatest potential to achieve win-win outcomes?

• How do our existing institutional arrangements, training, and access to financial capital enhance or impede applications of known and appropriate adaptive management? What practices exist or should be developed to encourage these applications or to reduce these barriers?

• What sources of information and technology are available to individuals and groups in different sectors and regions that they could use to harmonize activities with climate and other forest environmental conditions?

(Adapted from Wheaton and MacIver, 1999)

When adaptive management first entered the vocabulary of forest management, it heralded a new way of thinking in which management policies were treated as experiments, learning from them and using them as a basis for changes and adjustments (Stankey, 2001). If we characterize current forest management policies within the overarching theme of natural capital, then Figure 3 provides some insight into the multiplicity of goals, values and life services managed by many groups worldwide. Trees and forests are more than wood. In many communities, they are the source of heat, food, shelter, and spiritual value. In others, they are the industrial forest, to others a habitat rich in biodiversity and to others a regulating influence on the atmosphere. The majority of forests worldwide continue to be natural and managed accordingly. But if we accept that humanity has created this third "outrage" on the world, then this graphical depiction quickly turns from a theme of viewing forests as natural capital to one of managed values for sustainability, by which all forests will be managed for a diversity of targets within the envelope of global climate change. Adaptive approaches offer hope for the successful management of natural-origin and planted forests for their multiplicity of values, but driven and defined at the local levels within a global climate change envelope.

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