It seems pretty clear that the term “Adaptive Management” has gone the way of “Sustainable Development” – it’s popular so everyone wants to do it, and as a result there is a proliferation of interpretations of AM. Rather than waste time arguing over whose interpretation of AM is the right and true path, Jaime McFadden and I tried to identify attributes of different interpretations, and then classify exemplars in the literature into a few, or in fact two, schools of thought. At the time, we had a 3rd category “other”, where we stuck everything that didn’t obviously fit in the other two. By nature I’m a lumper, not a splitter, so it causes me great pain, but I’ve concluded that there needs to be a 3rd school of thought on AM.
Credit for identifying this new school goes to Mike Runge, and the “Redefining Adaptive Management” symposium that we partially sat in on at the ICCB meeting. The key attributes are 1) having measurable objectives, 2) carrying out a management action intended to move the system closer to the objectives, and 3) effectiveness monitoring to determine if the system has in fact moved closer to the objectives, and if not 4) try something else. For the moment, I’m going to dub this the Foundations of Success school, after the consortium of international conservation organizations that put together the FoS umbrella, and the ICCB symposium. In the Artificial Intelligence literature they call this “trial and error learning”. I'll write some more about this later.