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Adaptive Management

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) adaptive management position statement defines adaptive management and describes its essential elements. Adaptive management is a procedure for implementing management while learning about which management actions are most effective at achieving specified objectives. OEH is committed to using adaptive management to improve on-ground management decisions for ecological, social and/or economic outcomes.

Office of Environment and Heritage Adaptive Management Position Statement

The purpose of the Position Statement is to define adaptive management and outline how Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) staff can use adaptive management principles to extend existing management practices for ecological, social and/or economic outcomes.

Adaptive management is a procedure for implementing management while learning about which management actions are most effective at achieving specified objectives. Adaptive management is often referred to as structured ‘learning by doing’. Adaptive management incorporates management actions into experiments, to compare the effectiveness alternative management actions.

An adaptive management procedure includes all of the following four elements

Diagram of adaptive management

Adaptive management emphasises the importance of involving stakeholders (those that control or enable management) in all four elements, encouraging active partnerships between managers, scientists and other stakeholders.

An adaptive management approach can be applied to projects of broad scope and spatial scale (e.g. region- or park-wide) down to local small-scale projects (e.g. single population management or park specific issues).

OEH currently uses many elements of adaptive management. One of the elements of adaptive management that may allow managers to extend current practices is the process model. The model describes how management actions are expected to achieve the objectives - by modifying the threats or processes that are driving the system. A process model can be a simple flow diagram.

By adopting all four elements of adaptive management, OEH can:

  • Use limited resources strategically to learn about the most effective management actions
  • Provide transparent justification for management decisions
  • Improve ecological and/or social outcomes
  • Direct resources to the management actions that are most likely to be effective
  • Meet standards of scientific rigour (PDF 175KB)
  • Contribute information to wider OEH monitoring, evaluation and reporting efforts
  • Measure continuous improvement in ecological and/or social outcomes.

Additional information about adaptive management is available in an OEH Adaptive Management Technical document and forthcoming guidance tools.

Page last updated: 30 November 2018