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Resilience, Flexibility and Adaptive Management - - Antidotes for Spurious Certitude?

Lance Gunderson, Emory University

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In many cases, a predicate of adaptive environmental assessment and management (AEAM) has been a search for flexibility in management institutions, or for resilience in the ecological system prior to structuring actions that are designed for learning. Many of the observed impediments to AEAM occur when there is little or no resilience in the ecological components (e.g., when there is fear of an ecosystem shift to an unwanted stability domain), or when there is a lack of flexibility in the extant power relationships among stakeholders. In these cases, a pragmatic solution is to seek to restore resilience or flexibility rather than to pursue a course of broad-scale, active adaptive management. Restoration of resilience and flexibility may occur through novel assessments or small-scale experiments, or it may occur when an unforeseen policy crisis allows for reformation or restructuring of power relationships among stakeholders.

Key words

active learning, adaptive management, AEAM, ecological resilience, flexibility, Florida Everglades, policy crisis, restoration, stability domain, stakeholders, surprise, uncertainty.
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087