Principles for monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management of environmental water regimes

J.A. Webb, R. J. Watts, C Allan, A. T. Warner

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental water is often a contentious investment in the environment that must be delivered under uncertainty regarding the ecological and social benefits they deliver. Adaptive management can be used to facilitate decision making under uncertainty, and use new knowledge and understanding to improve management decisions and outcomes over time. However, there is a perception that adaptive management has failed to deliver improvements in decision making and learning. Monitoring and evaluation are an essential feature of adaptive management. However, past monitoring for river protection and restoration has too often been of insufficient quality to facilitate adaptive learning. Moreover, environmental water represents a class of protection and restoration that is inherently difficult to monitor, and some of the learnings are not evident in part because fragmented assessment, documentation, and reporting of adaptive management can obscure successes. We outline a set of general principles for improving monitoring, evaluation, and adaptive management of environmental water regimes, and provide several examples from Australia and North America. Successful adaptive management depends upon the formation and maintenance of strong partnerships and an appreciation of the importance of individuals in teams. Through such partnerships, it is possible to coordinate monitoring programs over large scales, create programs of requisite simplicity, and use innovative approaches to evaluation. Finally, we note that although adaptive management has occurred in the past, too often it has been poorly documented and reported. The inclusion of reflectors in monitoring and evaluation teams will better capture the lessons learned by individual programs, improving adaptive management into the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater for the environment
Subtitle of host publicationFrom policy and science to implementation and management
EditorsA.C. Horne, J.A. Webb, M.J. Stewardson, B.D. Richter, Mike Acreman
Place of PublicationCambridge MA
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780128039076
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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