Adaptive Governance

Drawing on five detailed case studies from the American West, the authors explore and clarify how to expedite a transition toward adaptive governance and break the gridlock in natural resource policymaking. Unlike scientific management, which relies on science as the foundation for policies made through a central bureaucratic authority, adaptive governance integrates various types of knowledge and organizations. Adaptive governance relies on open decision-making processes recognizing multiple interests, community-based initiatives, and an integrative science in addition to traditional science.

Case studies discussed include a program to protect endangered fish in the Colorado River with the active participation of water developers and environmentalists; a district ranger’s innovative plan to manage national forestland in northern New Mexico; and how community-based forestry groups are affecting legislative change in Washington, D.C.

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