Comparison of Adaptive Management and Linear Comprehensive Management

The table below contrasts the conservation management approaches of adaptive and traditional linear management found in Noss and Cooperrider (1994).


Comparison of Adaptive Management and
Linear Comprehensive Management
Parameter Linear comprehensive management Adaptive management
Concern with ecosystem Minimal concern with ecosystem due either to belief in human ability to manipulate or restore ecosystem or to lack of concern with ecosystem degradation


Recognition of overriding value of ecosystem and necessity of conserving a properly functioning ecosystem for many reasons
Knowledge of ecosystem Assumes that ecosystems, ecosystem processes, and effects of humans on them can be easily understood and predicted by traditional reductionist science Recognizes that ecosystems and ecosystem processes are beyond human ability to understand except in the most rudimentary way and that effects of human actions on them are to a large extent unpredictable


Method of predicting effects of human actions Emphasizes traditional reductionist science aided by modern high-tech tools such as computer models Emphasizes using experience to learn incrementally, starting with small-scale experiments and slowly and cautiously gathering new knowledge


Risk Assumes that human actions pose little threat to ecosystems or that such risks are not a concern Emphasizes minimizing risk to ecosystem
Scale – spatial Assumes that knowledge about ecosystems and effects of humans on them can be extrapolated across large regions; bases management on assumptions that effects are local Recognizes that local ecosystems are unique and that extrapolating across large regions is risky; recognizes that all ecosystems are connected and that local actions can have major effects on other or larger regions up to the global level
Scale – temporal Assumes that effects of human activities on ecosystems are generally short-term and reversible Recognizes that effects of human activities may be long-term and/or have time lags before effects are observed
Learning/monitoring Assumes that learning from management actions is not necessary; monitoring not necessary since outcomes are predictable Recognizes that careful and systematic monitoring is essential in order to learn how to manage ecosystems sustainably

Noss, R.F. and A.Y. Cooperrider. 1994. Saving nature’s legacy: protecting and restoring biodiversity. Defenders of Wildlife, Island Press. 416 pp.


Posted: September 14, 2021

Category: Conservation, Forests, Natural Resources
Tags: Forest Ecology, Strategic Conservation Planning, Urban Forest, Urban Forest Ecology

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