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Lessons in resilience and adaptive management


The Faculty of Law and Centre for Marine Socioecology are pleased to invite you to attend a public lecture

Start Date

Nov 11, 2019 12:30 pm

End Date

Nov 11, 2019 1:45 pm


Harvard Lecture Theatre 1, Centenary Building University of Tasmania Sandy Bay Campus

RSVP / Contact

No RSVP required. Enquiries to Prof Jan McDonald

University of Tasmania School of Law &
Centre for Marine Socioecology

Adaptive management and resilience to prevent biome-level shifts

Adaptive management is an approach to natural resource management that uses structured learning to reduce uncertainties for improved management over time. Adaptive management applies the tools of structured decision making and requires monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment of management. Many regime shifts have a critical, long ignored spatial context that may be particularly well-suited for the application of adaptive management, having sufficient controllability and reducible uncertainties. When applied appropriately, adaptive management enhances structured learning, and should be further explored as part of structured rangeland management decision-making. Applied to a biome level challenges, such as the global collapse of grasslands and coral reefs, adaptive management and resilience thinking may help reverse a highly undesirable regime shift. Natural resource laws and regulations can present a barrier to adaptive management when the requirements for legal certainty are met with environmental uncertainty. However, adaptive management is possible appropriate in many situations, and Dr Allen will discuss examples of spatial collapse in ecosystems, and the potential for adaptive management to help understand, and address these sudden changes.

Professor Craig Allen is Director and Professor at the Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Professor Allen’s research examines complex systems, resilience and adaptive management, with a particular focus on the links between land use and land cover change, biological invasions, protected area management and extinctions. He has previously worked as the head of the U.S. Geological Survey - Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit and the Nebraska and South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. He has published >200 scientific articles.

Resilience and governance of complex systems

Law determines the boundaries and rules of the game for environmental governance. Many environmental and natural resource laws were developed around the now-dated scientific view that there is a “balance of nature” that could be managed and sustained. Accelerating environmental change will result in more frequent, non-linear change in social-ecological systems (e.g., regime shifts in coral reefs, grasslands, and lakes). Laws need to account for this change. But formal institutions are now just one piece of the puzzle for governing social-ecological systems. Drawing on examples from the United States, Dr Garmestani will argue that environmental governance needs to draw on adaptive and transformative approaches and subsidiarity principles, to better account for the complex crossscale dynamics of social-ecological systems.

Dr Ahjond Garmestani is a Research Scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Research and Development. His research training spans policy studies, law, wildlife ecology and anthropology. This multidisciplinary education informs his research, which is integrated and transdisciplinary, focussing on governance of social-ecological systems. Garmestani has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications, and edited 2 books and 3 journal special features. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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