, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 323-334
Date: 07 Dec 2006

Adaptive management and adaptive governance in the everglades ecosystem

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Abstract

The Everglades is an intensively managed ecosystem where control of the water has allowed agricultural, urban and economic development, while struggling to meet biodiversity conservation goals. The over 100 year history of control began in response to a disastrous series of floods and droughts followed by environmental crises at an ecosystem scale. Each of these events precipitated technological fixes that extended control of water resources. Institutional structures have been continually reorganized over the last century to meet shifting social objectives, the latest of which is ecosystem restoration. However, the basic response, which employs engineering and technological solutions, is a type of social trap, where governmental mandates, planning-based paradigms and vested interests all interact to inhibit the resolution of chronic environmental issues. Experience from other resource systems indicates that in such an inherently complex system wrought with multiple uncertainties, restoration must be discovered through experimentation and learning embraced by adaptive management. Though minimal steps towards adaptive management have been made, we argue that adaptive forms of experimentation and governance are needed to resolve chronic resource issues and achieve restoration goals.