Thursday, July 07, 2011

Adaptive management of natural resources

Greetings from the famous room N101 at the Australian National University, where Carol Boughton is presenting a progress report on her PHD research on Meta (models) as applied to managed environment. Essentially Carol is seeing if the analysis techniques used in the IT discipline can be applied to solving environmental problems. She cited the Australian Public Service report "Tackling Wicked Problems : A Public Policy Perspective" (25 October 2007) and discussed Adaptive management (AM).

Carol is looking in particular at the use of formal models for nature reserves. I did a quick search and found more than 22,000 web pages mentioning adaptive management for nature reserves (and more than 300 scholarly papers). However, most of these did not appear to be referring to formal models, as an IT person would understand them, but just a description in words.

Also I suspect that most of the "wicked problems" in natural resource use are due to a lack of recognition of the role of politics in decision making. This would require analysis of the special interest groups which decision makers have to take into account. An example of this, on a national scale, will be evident on Sunday, when the Australian Government releases details of their carbon pricing scheme.

A rational analysis of the problem would suggest pricing all carbon emissions and then compensating individuals for their loss of finds or jobs. However, the reality is likely to be that some special interest groups have so much political influence that the system will be distorted to accommodate them.

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