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Lessons Learned from the First Decade of Adaptive Management in Comprehensive Everglades Restoration

Andrew J. LoSchiavo, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Ronnie G. Best, United States Geological Survey
Rebecca E. Burns, Atkins Global - North America
Susan Gray, South Florida Water Management District
Matthew C. Harwell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Eliza B. Hines, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Agnes R. McLean, Everglades National Park
Tom St. Clair, RESPEC
Steve Traxler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
James W. Vearil, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06065-180470

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Abstract

Although few successful examples of large-scale adaptive management applications are available to ecosystem restoration scientists and managers, examining where and how the components of an adaptive management program have been successfully implemented yields insight into what approaches have and have not worked. We document five key lessons learned during the decade-long development and implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Collaborative Adaptive Management Program that might be useful to other adaptive management practitioners. First, legislative and regulatory authorities that require the development of an adaptive management program are necessary to maintain funding and support to set up and implement adaptive management. Second, integration of adaptive management activities into existing institutional processes, and development of technical guidance, helps to ensure that adaptive management activities are understood and roles and responsibilities are clearly articulated so that adaptive management activities are implemented successfully. Third, a strong applied science framework is critical for establishing a prerestoration ecosystem reference condition and understanding of how the system works, as well as for providing a conduit for incorporating new scientific information into the decision-making process. Fourth, clear identification of uncertainties that pose risks to meeting restoration goals helps with the development of hypothesis-driven strategies to inform restoration planning and implementation. Tools such as management options matrices can provide a coherent way to link hypotheses to specific monitoring efforts and options to adjust implementation if performance goals are not achieved. Fifth, independent external peer review of an adaptive management program provides important feedback critical to maintaining and improving adaptive management implementation for ecosystem restoration. These lessons learned have helped shape the CERP Adaptive Management Program and are applicable to other natural resource management and restoration efforts; they can be used to help guide development and implementation of adaptive management programs facing similar challenges.

Key words

adaptive management; decision-making; Everglades; monitoring; restoration
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087