Talk:Complex socio-ecological systems/Adaptive Management and Resilience

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As a member of an adaptive management (AM) doctoral program here on campus, rereading some of these texts (whole reading others for the first time), I realize how difficult it is to envision adaptive management in large-scale systems, especially in situations where the governance (traditional, nontraditional, you name it) is anemic. Walters basically argues that the cases where AM projects have been successful have been when the strength of will of individuals was enough to carry a project through. Nelson et al. says that many of the resilience-related issues in science are “fundamentally about the governance of adaptation.” True, in both these papers the empirical ecological science serves as the backdrop, but since neither of these papers is an expansion of our discussion on nature-society dualisms (false or otherwise), and indeed Nelson and Walters are both biophysical scientists, it is notable that human agency is given so much credit for evaluating and affecting complex-adaptive systems. The nonhierarchical (or nested) structures of governance and power explicit in AM apparently still need a facilitator (or handmaiden?) to see them to some end, no matter the number of stakeholders involved in democratizing the management procedures and ensuring the transparency of the science. Nelson et al. cite the importance of opinion leaders and Walters the compleat emmanuensis. Arguments against, and critiques of, AM are manifold—these come from all disciplinary fronts, and in fact are more scathing than those of socio-ecological resilience more generally probably because AM’s management implications are more direct. I believe the logic that egalitarian governance structures and multiple hypotheses driven research, focusing on complex-adaptive systems, is what will solve most management crises like overfishing and deforestation is a difficult line of reasoning to negotiate. And implicitly so do a lot of AM researchers. Very meaty discussion to be had here and a good opportunity to connect to past weeks’ topics. ~Sam