Parma, Ana M. International Pacific Halibut Commission, Seattle, Washington.
Last reviewed:November 2019
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An approach to management of natural resources that emphasizes how little is known about the dynamics of ecosystems and that, as more is learned, management will evolve and improve. Adaptive management is a systematic strategy that seeks to improve resource assessment, allocation, conservation, and maintenance by learning from management outcomes. Natural systems are very complex and dynamic, and human observations about natural processes are fragmentary and often inaccurate. Furthermore, much of the variability that affects natural populations is unpredictable and beyond human control. This combination of ignorance and unpredictability means that the ways in which ecosystems respond to human interventions are unknown and can be described only in probabilistic terms. Nonetheless, management decisions need to be made. Adaptive management proceeds despite this uncertainty by treating human interventions in natural systems as large-scale experiments from which more may be learned, leading to improved management in the future (Fig. 1). See also: Conservation of resources; Ecosystem; Environment; Environmental engineering
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