Adaptive management

Last updated

Adaptive management, also known as adaptive resource management or adaptive environmental assessment and management, is a structured, iterative process of robust decision making in the face of uncertainty, with an aim to reducing uncertainty over time via system monitoring. In this way, decision making simultaneously meets one or more resource management objectives and, either passively or actively, accrues information needed to improve future management. Adaptive management is a tool which should be used not only to change a system, but also to learn about the system. [1] Because adaptive management is based on a learning process, it improves long-run management outcomes. The challenge in using the adaptive management approach lies in finding the correct balance between gaining knowledge to improve management in the future and achieving the best short-term outcome based on current knowledge. [2] This approach has more recently been employed in implementing international development programs.



There are a number of scientific and social processes which are vital components of adaptive management, including:

The achievement of these objectives requires an open management process which seeks to include past, present and future stakeholders. Adaptive management needs to at least maintain political openness, but usually aims to create it. Adaptive management must therefore be a scientific and social process. It must focus on the development of new institutions and institutional strategies in balance with scientific hypothesis and experimental frameworks (

Adaptive management can proceed as either passive or active adaptive management, depending on how learning takes place. Passive adaptive management values learning only insofar as it improves decision outcomes (i.e. passively), as measured by the specified utility function. In contrast, active adaptive management explicitly incorporates learning as part of the objective function, and hence, decisions which improve learning are valued over those which do not. [1] [3] In both cases, as new knowledge is gained, the models are updated and optimal management strategies are derived accordingly. Thus, while learning occurs in both cases, it is treated differently. Often, deriving actively adaptive policies is technically very difficult, which prevents it being more commonly applied. [4]


Key features of both passive and active adaptive management are:

However, a number of process failures related to information feedback can prevent effective adaptive management decision making: [5]


The use of adaptive management techniques can be traced back to peoples from ancient civilisations. For example, the Yap people of Micronesia have been using adaptive management techniques to sustain high population densities in the face of resource scarcity for thousands of years (Falanruw 1984). In using these techniques, the Yap people have altered their environment creating, for example, coastal mangrove depressions and seagrass meadows to support fishing and termite resistant wood (Stankey and Shinder 1997).

The origin of the adaptive management concept can be traced back to ideas of scientific management pioneered by Frederick Taylor in the early 1900s (Haber 1964). While the term "adaptive management" evolved in natural resource management workshops through decision makers, managers and scientists focussing on building simulation models to uncover key assumptions and uncertainties (Bormann et al. 1999)

Two ecologists at The University of British Columbia, C.S. Holling [1] and C.J Walters [3] further developed the adaptive management approach as they distinguished between passive and active adaptive management practice. Kai Lee, notable Princeton physicist, expanded upon the approach in the late 1970s and early 1980s while pursuing a post-doctorate degree at UC Berkeley. The approach was further developed at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria, while C.S. Holling was director of the Institute. In 1992, Hilbourne described three learning models for federal land managers, around which adaptive management approaches could be developed, these are reactive, passive and active.

Adaptive management has probably been most frequently applied in Yap, Australia and North America, initially applied in fishery management, but received more broad application in the 1990s and 2000s. One of the most successful applications of adaptive management has been in the area of waterfowl harvest management in North America, most notably for the mallard. [6]

Adaptive management in a conservation project and program context can trace its roots back to at least the early 1990s, with the establishment of the Biodiversity Support Program (BSP) [7] in 1989. BSP was a USAID-funded consortium of WWF [8] The Nature Conservancy (TNC), [9] and World Resources Institute (WRI). [10] Its Analysis and Adaptive Management Program sought to understand the conditions under which certain conservation strategies were most effective and to identify lessons learned across conservation projects. When BSP ended in 2001, TNC and Foundations of Success [11] (FOS, a non-profit which grew out of BSP) continued to actively work in promoting adaptive management for conservation projects and programs. The approaches used included Conservation by Design [12] (TNC) and Measures of Success [13] (FOS).

In 2004, the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) [14] – which includes several former BSP members – developed a common set of standards and guidelines [15] for applying adaptive management to conservation projects and programs.

Use in environmental practices

Applying adaptive management in a conservation or ecosystem management project involves the integration of project/program design, management, and monitoring to systematically test assumptions in order to adapt and learn. The three components of adaptive management in environmental practice are:

Application to environmental projects and programs

Figure 1: CMP Adaptive Management Cycle CMP Cycle - 2008-02-20.jpg
Figure 1: CMP Adaptive Management Cycle

Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation [18] lays out five main steps to an adaptive management project cycle (see Figure 1). The Open Standards represent a compilation and adaptation of best practices and guidelines across several fields and across several organizations within the conservation community. Since the release of the initial Open Standards (updated in 2007 and 2013), thousands of project teams from conservation organizations (e.g., TNC, Rare, and WWF), local conservation groups, and donors alike have begun applying these Open Standards to their work. In addition, several CMP members have developed training materials and courses to help apply the Standards.

Some recent write-ups of adaptive management in conservation include wildlife protection (SWAP, 2008), forests ecosystem protection (CMER, 2010), coastal protection and restoration (LACPR, 2009), natural resource management (water, land and soil), species conservation especially, fish conservation from overfishing (FOS, 2007) and climate change (DFG, 2010). In addition, some other examples follow:

In international development

The concept of adaptive management is not restricted to natural resources or ecosystem management, as similar concepts have been applied to international development programming. [20] [21] This has often been a recognition to the "wicked" nature of many development challenges and the limits of traditional planning processes. [22] [23] [24] One of the principal changes facing international development organizations is the need to be more flexible, adaptable and focused on learning. [25] This is reflected in international development approaches such as Doing Development Differently, Politically Informed Programming and Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation. [26] [27] [28]

One recent example of the use of adaptive management by international development donors is the planned Global Learning for Adaptive Management (GLAM) programme to support adaptive management in Department for International Development and USAID. The program is establishing a centre for learning about adaptive management to support the utilization and accessibility of adaptive management. [29] [30] In addition, donors have been focused on amending their own programmatic guidance to reflect the importance of learning within programs: for instance, USAID's recent focus in their ADS guidance on the importance of collaborating, learning and adapting. [31] [32] This is also reflected in Department for International Development's Smart Rules that provide the operating framework for their programs including the use of evidence to inform their decisions. [33] There are a variety of tools used to operationalize adaptive management in programs, such as learning agendas and decision cycles. [34]

Collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA) is a concept related to the operationalizing of adaptive management in international development that describes a specific way of designing, implementing, adapting and evaluating programs. [35] :85 [36] :46 CLA involves three concepts:

  1. collaborating intentionally with stakeholders to share knowledge and reduce duplication of effort,
  2. learning systematically by drawing on evidence from a variety of sources and taking the time to reflect on implementation, and
  3. adapting strategically based on applied learning. CLA practices have tangible benefits; for instance, a recent study recently found that companies "which apply more data-driven and adaptive leadership practices perform better" when examined against those which focus less on those practices. [37]

CLA integrates three closely connected concepts within the organizational theory literature: namely collaborating, learning and adapting. There is evidence of the benefits of collaborating internally within an organization and externally with organizations. [38] Much of the production and transmission of knowledge—both explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge—occurs through collaboration. [39] There is evidence for the importance of collaboration among individuals and groups for innovation, knowledge production, and diffusion—for example, the benefits of staff interacting with one another and transmitting knowledge. [40] [41] [42] The importance of collaboration is closely linked to the ability of organizations to collectively learn from each other, a concept noted in the literature on learning organizations. [43] [44] [45]

CLA, an adaptive management practice, is being employed by implementing partners [46] [47] that receive funding from the federal government of the United States, [48] [49] [50] but it is primarily a framework for internal change efforts that aim at incorporating collaboration, learning, and adaptation within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) including its missions located around the world. [51] CLA has been linked to a part of USAID's commitment to becoming a learning organization. [52] CLA represents an approach to combine strategic collaboration, continuous learning, and adaptive management. [53] A part of integrating the CLA approach is providing tools and resources, such as the Learning Lab, to staff and partner organizations. [54] The CLA approach is detailed for USAID staff in the recently revised program policy guidance. [31]

Use in other practices as a tool for sustainability

Adaptive management as a systematic process for improving environmental management policies and practices is the traditional application however, the adaptive management framework can also be applied to other sectors seeking sustainability solutions such as business and community development. Adaptive management as a strategy emphasizes the need to change with the environment and to learn from doing. Adaptive management applied to ecosystems makes overt sense when considering ever changing environmental conditions. The flexibility and constant learning of an adaptive management approach is also a logical application for organizations seeking sustainability methodologies. Businesses pursuing sustainability strategies would employ an adaptive management framework to ensure that the organization is prepared for the unexpected and geared for change. By applying an adaptive management approach the business begins to function as an integrated system adjusting and learning from a multi-faceted network of influences not just environmental but also, economic and social (Dunphy, Griffths, & Benn, 2007). The goal of any sustainable organization guided by adaptive management principals must be to engage in active learning to direct change towards sustainability (Verine, 2008). This "learning to manage by managing to learn" (Bormann BT, 1993) will be at the core of a sustainable business strategy.

Sustainable community development requires recognition of the relationship between environment, economics and social instruments within the community. An adaptive management approach to creating sustainable community policy and practice also emphasizes the connection and confluence of those elements. Looking into the cultural mechanisms which contribute to a community value system often highlights the parallel to adaptive management practices, "with [an] emphasis on feedback learning, and its treatment of uncertainty and unpredictability" (Berkes, Colding, & Folke, 2000). Often this is the result of indigenous knowledge and historical decisions of societies deeply rooted in ecological practices (Berkes, Colding, & Folke, 2000). By applying an adaptive management approach to community development the resulting systems can develop built in sustainable practice as explained by the Environmental Advisory Council (2002), "active adaptive management views policy as a set of experiments designed to reveal processes that build or sustain resilience. It requires, and facilitates, a social context with flexible and open institutions and multi-level governance systems that allow for learning and increase adaptive capacity without foreclosing future development options" (p. 1121). A practical example of adaptive management as a tool for sustainability was the application of a modified variation of adaptive management using artvoice, photovoice, and agent-based modeling in a participatory social framework of action. This application was used in field research on tribal lands to first identify the environmental issue and impact of illegal trash dumping and then to discover a solution through iterative agent-based modeling using NetLogo on a theoretical "regional cooperative clean-energy economy". This cooperative economy incorporated a mixed application of: traditional trash recycling and a waste-to-fuels process of carbon recycling of non-recyclable trash into ethanol fuel. This industrial waste-to-fuels application was inspired by pioneering work of the Canadian-based company, Enerkem. See Bruss, 2012 - PhD dissertation: Human Environment Interactions and Collaborative Adaptive Capacity Building in a Resilience Framework, GDPE Colorado State University.

In an ever-changing world, adaptive management appeals to many practices seeking sustainable solutions by offering a framework for decision making that proposes to support a sustainable future which, "conserves and nurtures the diversity—of species, of human opportunity, of learning institutions and of economic options"(The Environmental Advisory Council, 2002, p. 1121).


It is difficult to test the effectiveness of adaptive management in comparison to other management approaches. One challenge is that once a system is managed using one approach it is difficult to determine how another approach would have performed in exactly the same situation. [55] One study tested the effectiveness of formal passive adaptive management in comparison to human intuition by having natural resource management students make decisions about how to harvest a hypothetical fish population in an online computer game. The students on average performed poorly in comparison to the computer programs implementing passive adaptive management. [55] [56]

Collaborative adaptive management is often celebrated as an effective way to deal with natural resource management under high levels of conflict, uncertainty and complexity. [57] The effectiveness of these efforts can be constrained by both social and technical barriers. As the case of the Glenn Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program in the US illustrates, effective collaborative adaptive management efforts require clear and measurable goals and objectives, incentives and tools to foster collaboration, long-term commitment to monitoring and adaptation, and straightforward joint fact-finding protocols. [58] In Colorado, USA, a ten-year, ranch-scale (2590 ha) experiment began in 2012 at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Central Plains Experimental range to evaluate the effectiveness and process of collaborative adaptive management [57] on rangelands. The Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management or “CARM” project monitors outcomes from yearling steer grazing management on 10, 130 ha pastures conducted by a group of conservationists, ranchers, and public employees, and researchers. This team compares ecological monitoring data tracking profitability and conservation outcomes with outcomes from a “traditional” management treatment: a second set of ten pastures managed without adaptive decision making but with the same stocking rate. Early evaluations of the project by social scientists offer insights for more effective adaptive management. [59] First, trust is primary and essential to learning in adaptive management, not a side benefit. Second, practitioners cannot assume that extensive monitoring data or large-scale efforts will automatically facilitate successful collaborative adaptive management. Active, long-term efforts to build trust among scientists and stakeholders are also important. Finally, explicit efforts to understand, share and respect multiple types of manager knowledge, including place-based ecological knowledge practiced by local managers, is necessary to manage adaptively for multiple conservation and livelihood goals on rangelands. [59] Practitioners can expect adaptive management to be a complex, non-linear process shaped by social, political and ecological processes, as well as by data collection and interpretation.

General resources

Information and guidance on the entire adaptive management process is available from CMP members' websites and other online sources:

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Holling, C.S. (1978). Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN   9781932846072.
  2. Allan, Catherine; Stankey, George Henry (2009-06-05). Adaptive Environmental Management: A Practitioner's Guide. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN   9781402096327.
  3. 1 2 Walters, Carl J. (1986-01-01). Adaptive management of renewable resources. Macmillan. ISBN   978-0029479704. OCLC   13184654.
  4. Carey, Gemma; Crammond, Brad; Malbon, Eleanor; Carey, Nic (2015-09-18). "Adaptive Policies for Reducing Inequalities in the Social Determinants of Health". International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 4 (11): 763–767. doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2015.170. ISSN   2322-5939. PMC   4629702 . PMID   26673337.
  5. Elzinga, Caryl L.; Salzer, Daniel W.; Willoughby, John W. (1998-01-01). "Measuring & Monitering Plant Populations". U.S. Bureau of Land Management Papers.
  6. Nichols, James D.; Johnson, Fred A.; Williams, Byron K.; Boomer, G. Scott (2015-06-01). "On formally integrating science and policy: walking the walk". Journal of Applied Ecology. 52 (3): 539–543. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12406 . ISSN   1365-2664.
  7. Biodiversity Support Program
  8. WWF
  9. The Nature Conservancy
  10. World Resources Institute
  11. Foundations of Success
  12. Conservation by Design
  13. Measures of Success
  14. Conservation Measures Partnership
  15. "Home". Archived from the original on 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  16. Stankey, George H.; Clark, Roger N.; Bormann, Bernard T.; Stankey, George H.; Clark, Roger N.; Bormann, Bernard T. "Adaptive management of natural resources: theory, concepts, and management institutions".{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. Rout, Tracy M.; Hauser, Cindy E.; Possingham, Hugh P. (2009-03-01). "Optimal adaptive management for the translocation of a threatened species" (PDF). Ecological Applications. 19 (2): 515–526. doi:10.1890/07-1989.1. ISSN   1939-5582. PMID   19323207.
  18. Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation
  19. Science for Active Management
  20. Adaptive Management for Water Resources Project Planning. 2004. doi:10.17226/10972. ISBN   978-0-309-09191-6.
  21. Rondinell, D. A. (1993) Development Projects as Policy Experiments: an adaptive approach to development administration, 2nd ed, Routledge, London and New York
  22. Rittel, Horst W. J.; Webber, Melvin M. (1973). "Dilemmas in a general theory of planning". Policy Sciences. 4 (2): 155–169. doi:10.1007/BF01405730. S2CID   18634229.
  23. Ramalingam, B., Laric, M. and Primrose, J. (2014) 'From Best Practice to Best Fit: Understanding and Navigating Wicked Problems in International Development'. Working Paper. London: ODI
  24. Head, B. and Alford, J. (2008) "Wicked Problems: The Implications for Public Management", 12th Annual Conference International Research Society for Public Management, Vol. Panel on Public Management in Practice, 26–28 March 2008, Brisbane.
  25. Smith, S.; Young, A. (2009). "Adapting to Change: Becoming a Learning Organization as a Relief and Development Agency". IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication. 52 (4): 329–345. doi:10.1109/TPC.2009.2034240. S2CID   9884915.
  26. Andrews, M., Pritchett, L. and Woolcock, M. (2015) Doing problem driven work. Working Paper 30. Cambridge, MA: Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  27. Booth, D. and Unsworth, S. (2014) Politically smart, locally-led development. ODI discussion paper London: Overseas Development Institute.
  28. Fritz, V., Levy, B., and Ort, R. (2014) Problem-driven political economy analysis: The World Bank's experience. Washington DC: World Bank.
  29. Funds for NGOs. "DFID: Global Learning for Adaptive Management (GLAM) Programme". Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  30. Oxfam "Adaptive Management at Oxfam". Retrieved May 25, 2017
  31. 1 2 USAID. "ADS Chapter 201 Program Cycle Operational Policy" Archived 2019-10-23 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  32. USAID Learning Lab. "CLA". Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  33. DFID. "DFID Smart Rules: Better Programme Deliver". Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  34. "Knowing When to Adapt - A Decision Tree" Retrieved March 22, 2019
  35. Altschuld, J. W., & Watkins, R. (2015). Needs assessment: trends and a view toward the future. New Directions for Evaluation, Number 144. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  36. Janus, Steffen Soulejman. (2016). Becoming a knowledge-sharing organization: a handbook for scaling up solutions through knowledge capturing and sharing. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.
  37. Akhtar, Pervaiz; Tse, Ying Kei; Khan, Zaheer; Rao-Nicholson, Rekha (2016). "Data-driven and adaptive leadership contributing to sustainability: Global agri-food supply chains connected with emerging markets". International Journal of Production Economics. 181: 392–401. doi:10.1016/j.ijpe.2015.11.013.
  38. Lab, Learning (2016-08-11). "Literature review of the evidence base for collaborating, learning, and adapting". USAID Learning Lab. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  39. For example: Polanyi, Michael (1966), The tacit dimension. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  40. Kelly, Kip, and Schaefer, Alan (2014). "Creating a collaborative organizational culture". UNC White Paper.
  41. Phelps, C.; Heidl, R.; Wadhwa, A. (2012). "Knowledge, networks, and knowledge networks: a review and research agenda". Journal of Management. 38 (4): 1115–1166. doi:10.1177/0149206311432640. S2CID   7849173.
  42. Hackman, J. R. (2002). Leading teams: setting the stage for great performances. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  43. Garvin, David A. August 1993. "Building a learning organization." Harvard Business Review 71, no. 4: 78–91.
  44. Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: the art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday Business.
  45. Argyris, C. and Schön, D. (1978) Organizational learning: a theory of action perspective, Reading, Mass: Addison Wesley.
  46. "CLA Case Study 2015". USAID Learning Lab. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  47. "CLA Case Study 2016". USAID Learning Lab. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  48. Fintrac. "Collaborating, Learning and Adapting" Archived 2017-06-25 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  49. QED Group LLC. "Impact Stories: Collaborating, Learning and Adapting: Facilitating Agile Program Success Through CLA". Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  50. Global Communities. (2016). M&E for "Collaboration, Learning and Adapting" in PACE.
  51. USAID Learning Lab "Understanding CLA". Retrieved June 4, 2017.
  52. OECD, 2016. Development Co-operation Peer Reviews: United States. doi : 10.1787/9789264266971-en
  53. USAID Learning Lab. "CLA". Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  54. Borgen. "A Roadmap to USAID Learning Lab". Retrieved April 19, 2017
  55. 1 2 Holden, Matthew H.; Ellner, Stephen P. (2016-07-01). "Human judgment vs. quantitative models for the management of ecological resources". Ecological Applications. 26 (5): 1553–1565. arXiv: 1603.04518 . doi:10.1890/15-1295. ISSN   1939-5582. PMID   27755756. S2CID   1279459.
  56. "Sometimes, Even Bad Models Make Better Decisions Than People". Pacific Standard. 2016-03-11. Retrieved 2016-12-22.[ permanent dead link ]
  57. 1 2 Beratan, Kathi (2014-03-28). "Summary: Addressing the Interactional Challenges of Moving Collaborative Adaptive Management From Theory to Practice". Ecology and Society. 19 (1). doi: 10.5751/ES-06399-190146 . ISSN   1708-3087.
  58. Susskind, Lawrence; Camacho, Alejandro E.; Schenk, Todd (2011-10-31). "A critical assessment of collaborative adaptive management in practice". Journal of Applied Ecology. 49 (1): 47–51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.02070.x . ISSN   0021-8901.
  59. 1 2 Wilmer, Hailey; Derner, Justin D.; Fernández-Giménez, María E.; Briske, David D.; Augustine, David J.; Porensky, Lauren M. (September 2018). "Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management Fosters Management-Science Partnerships". Rangeland Ecology & Management. 71 (5): 646–657. doi:10.1016/j.rama.2017.07.008. ISSN   1550-7424. S2CID   90148819.

Related Research Articles

Collaborative learning is a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together. Unlike individual learning, people engaged in collaborative learning capitalize on one another's resources and skills. More specifically, collaborative learning is based on the model that knowledge can be created within a population where members actively interact by sharing experiences and take on asymmetric roles. Put differently, collaborative learning refers to methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. These include both face-to-face conversations and computer discussions. Methods for examining collaborative learning processes include conversation analysis and statistical discourse analysis.

Environmental resource management Type of resource management

Environmental resource management is the management of the interaction and impact of human societies on the environment. It is not, as the phrase might suggest, the management of the environment itself. Environmental resources management aims to ensure that ecosystem services are protected and maintained for future human generations, and also maintain ecosystem integrity through considering ethical, economic, and scientific (ecological) variables. Environmental resource management tries to identify factors affected by conflicts that rise between meeting needs and protecting resources. It is thus linked to environmental protection, sustainability, integrated landscape management, natural resource management, fisheries management, forest management, and wildlife management, and others.

Ecological engineering Environmental engineering

Ecological engineering uses ecology and engineering to predict, design, construct or restore, and manage ecosystems that integrate "human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both".

Environmental education Environmental social science

Environmental education (EE) refers to organized efforts to teach how natural environments function, and particularly, how human beings can manage behavior and ecosystems to live sustainably. It is a multi-disciplinary field integrating disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, earth science, atmospheric science, mathematics, and geography.

Participatory management is the practice of empowering members of a group, such as employees of a company or citizens of a community, to participate in organizational decision making. It is used as an alternative to traditional vertical management structures, which has shown to be less effective as participants are growing less interested in their leader's expectations due to a lack of recognition of the participant's effort or opinion.

Sustainable forest management Management of forests according to the principles of sustainable development

Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests according to the principles of sustainable development. Sustainable forest management has to keep the balance between three main pillars: ecological, economic and socio-cultural. Sustainable forestry can seem contradicting to some individuals as the act of logging trees is not sustainable. However, the goal of sustainable forestry is to allow for a balance to be found between ethical forestry and maintaining biodiversity through the means of maintaining natural patterns of disturbance and regeneration. Successfully achieving sustainable forest management will provide integrated benefits to all, ranging from safeguarding local livelihoods to protecting biodiversity and ecosystems provided by forests, reducing rural poverty and mitigating some of the effects of climate change. Forest conservation is essential to stop climate change.

Natural resource management Management of natural resources

Natural resource management (NRM) is the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, with a particular focus on how management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations (stewardship).

Watershed management is the study of the relevant characteristics of a watershed aimed at the sustainable distribution of its resources and the process of creating and implementing plans, programs and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal, and human communities within the watershed boundary. Features of a watershed that agencies seek to manage to include water supply, water quality, drainage, stormwater runoff, water rights and the overall planning and utilization of watersheds. Landowners, land use agencies, stormwater management experts, environmental specialists, water use surveyors and communities all play an integral part in watershed management.

Ecological resilience Capacity of ecosystems to resist and recover from change

In ecology, resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly. Such perturbations and disturbances can include stochastic events such as fires, flooding, windstorms, insect population explosions, and human activities such as deforestation, fracking of the ground for oil extraction, pesticide sprayed in soil, and the introduction of exotic plant or animal species. Disturbances of sufficient magnitude or duration can profoundly affect an ecosystem and may force an ecosystem to reach a threshold beyond which a different regime of processes and structures predominates. When such thresholds are associated with a critical or bifurcation point, these regime shifts may also be referred to as critical transitions.

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) describes indigenous and other traditional knowledge of local resources. As a field of study in Northern American anthropology, TEK refers to "a cumulative body of knowledge, belief, and practice, evolving by accumulation of TEK and handed down through generations through traditional songs, stories and beliefs. It is concerned with the relationship of living beings with their traditional groups and with their environment." It is important to note that indigenous knowledge is not a universal concept among various societies, but is referred to a system of knowledge traditions or practices that are heavily dependent on "place". Such knowledge is used in natural resource management as a substitute for baseline environmental data in cases where there is little recorded scientific data, or may complement Western scientific methods of ecological management.

Ecosystem management Natural resource management

Ecosystem management is an approach to natural resource management that aims to ensure the long-term sustainability and persistence of an ecosystems function and services while meeting socioeconomic, political, and cultural needs. Although indigenous communities have employed sustainable ecosystem management approaches for millennia, ecosystem management emerged formally as a concept in the 1990s from a growing appreciation of the complexity of ecosystems, as well as humans' reliance and influence on natural systems.

Community-based management (CBM) is a bottom up approach of organization which can be facilitated by an upper government or NGO structure but it aims for local stakeholder participation in the planning, research, development, management and policy making for a community as a whole. The decentralization of managing tactics enables local people to deal with the unique social, political and ecological problems their community might face and find solutions ideal to their situation. Overwhelming national or local economic, political and social pressures can affect the efficiency of CBM as well as its long term application. CBM varies across spatial and temporal scales to reflect the ever-changing distinctive physical and/or human environment it is acting within. While the specifics of each practice might differ, existing research maintains that community based management, when implemented properly, is incredibly beneficial not only for the health of the environment, but also for the well-being of the stakeholders.

A social-ecological system consists of 'a bio-geo-physical' unit and its associated social actors and institutions. Social-ecological systems are complex and adaptive and delimited by spatial or functional boundaries surrounding particular ecosystems and their context problems.

Population, health, and the environment (PHE) is an approach to human development that integrates family planning and health with conservation efforts to seek synergistic successes for greater conservation and human welfare outcomes than single sector approaches. There is a deep relationship between population, health and environment. Those subjects are not only related to each other but also to other important aspects that are very necessary for keeping PHE in a close-knit relationship.

Collaborative project management is a method used to plan, coordinate, control, and monitor distributed and complex projects. It enables project teams to collaborate across departmental, corporate, and national boundaries and to master growing project complexity. Everybody in the project has access to the information in the project such as tasks, messages, and documents etc. This information is updated in real-time when changes occur. With the advent of collaborative software more project teams use collaboration tools in their projects.

Collaborative partnerships are agreements and actions made by consenting organizations to share resources to accomplish a mutual goal. Collaborative partnerships rely on participation by at least two parties who agree to share resources, such as finances, knowledge, and people. Organizations in a collaborative partnership share common goals. The essence of collaborative partnership is for all parties to mutually benefit from working together.

The Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC) are a network of 22 regional conservation bodies covering the entire United States and adjacent areas, established in 2009. They are autonomous cooperatives sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and aim to develop coordinated conservation strategies applicable to large landscape areas. Partnerships are formed with governmental and non-governmental conservation organisations. Similar initiatives have been started or advocated in other parts of the world.

Community Based Mangrove Management (CBMM) is a sustainable approach for conserving the rapidly disappearing mangrove forests. It can be defined as community driven management and rehabilitation of mangrove forests involving resource users in the management process directly. CBMM decentralizes authority and power from government to local communities. The dual aim of CBMM is the ongoing conservation of mangroves and generation of sustainable livelihood.

Earth Optimism is a movement promoting a positive outlook towards problems related to environmental or climate issues. Earth Optimism provides an alternative narrative to mainstream environmental news by highlighting the potential for humans to positively impact the environment by making small changes at individual and community levels. It focuses on positive technological advances and ecological success stories to illustrate the potential for hope in the face of environmental challenges.

Collaborative environmental governance is an approach to environmental governance which seeks to account for scale mismatch which may occur within social-ecological systems. It recognizes that interconnected human and biological systems exist on multiple geographic and temporal scales and thus CEG seeks to build collaboration among actors across multiple scales and jurisdictions.