How the Forest Practices Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Forests describes Adaptive Management, with links to further information about business process optimization.
Effective human management of complex ecosystems such as forests is a task which, by its very scope, extends beyond the capability of individual practitioners. Growth cycles may last beyond the lives of practitioners, and complex interactions between species may be unique in their instance, so that precedents may be difficult or impossible to find even in all the available scientific literature. In response to these challenges, the Forest Practices Branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Forests provides insights into how Adaptive Management helps them manage the complex issues surrounding their mandate. According to the Ministry:
Adaptive management is a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programs.
Or, in a more expanded form:
Adaptive management is a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programs. Its most effective form-"active" adaptive management-employs management programs that are designed to experimentally compare selected policies or practices, by evaluating alternative hypotheses about the system being managed.
One of the main features of Adaptive Management is that those practicing it do not presume to say they know the correct answers right away. Instead, the assumption that the answers are not obvious or even certain is placed right at the beginning of the Adaptive Management process.
Next, hypotheses are formed based on experience or insight, and limited scope tests are arranged, if possible, in order to determine the degree to which the hypotheses are correct. Then, data is collected and feedback is incorporated into subsequent rounds of hypothesis-formation, until a course of action has been determined for the wider ecosystem.
Adaptive Management may resemble research, with the following differences:
- Scope: Adaptive Management hypotheses are tested on much larger sample sizes than can be accommodated in research laboratories.
- Repeatability: Unlike laboratory experiments, identical conditions may rarely present themselves - therefore data gleaned from testing hypotheses needs to be interpreted in light of ever-changing circumstances.
- Number of Variables: Related to the previous point, there are many more variables in the trials conducted in the course of Adaptive Management. These variables cannot always be isolated experimentally, but patterns may be found analytically after the data has been collected.
TCEG can help managers find patterns in raw data collected from field studies. Depending on the data and objectives, we can answer questions based on aggregate functions, plot graphs revealing patterns, or provide reporting formats that help managers compare data across studies. In coordination with other consulting firms, TCEG can provide a full range of analytical services to assist companies engaging in Adaptive Management practices.