Reviewing adaptive management through a wicked lens

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Regional scale adaptive management has become part of the rhetorical landscape of natural resource/environmental management. It is now unremarkable, even expected, that strategies programs and plans contain a section detailing how implementation will fit within an adaptive management framework (for a recent example, see State Water Corporation 2007). Adaptive management has become attractive because acknowledgement and acceptance of complexity and uncertainty in environmental management has prompted questioning of conventional natural resource planning (Lachappelle, McCool et al. 2003). This questioning of conventional planning and management has taken on an urgent air as many environmental/ natural resource management problems, including water management (Freeman 2000) and ecological sustainability (Durant and Legge 2006), are apparently becoming so complex and unknowable they are called 'wicked'. In this chapter I discuss 'wicked' problems, and suggest that understanding managers' responses to them can illuminate aspects of adaptive management as it is practiced. To illustrate my nascent proposal I revisit my empirical study of the CSIRO/Murray'Darling Basin Commission Heartlands initiative which operated in NSW and Victoria between 2000 and 2003
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContested Country
Subtitle of host publicationLocal and Regional Natural Resources Management in Australia
Place of PublicationBrisbane
PublisherCSIRO Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780643095861
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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