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Bureaucracy, Collaboration and Coproduction: A Case Study of the Implementation of Adaptive Management in the U.S.D.A. Forest Service

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Fleischman, Forrest
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1150
Sector: Social Organization
Region: North America
Subject(s): adaptive systems
forest management
Abstract: "This paper examines the role of collaborative and coproductive processes in management of US national forests, utilizing a case study of the implementation of the policy of adaptive management by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. Adaptive management is widely prescribed by ecologists and conservation theorists as a means of improving natural resource management by using designed experiments to test management hypotheses and improve management practice. Adaptive management was introduced by the US Government on public lands in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990s in the aftermath of major controversy over the management of old-growth forest for spotted owl habitat. The Forest Service designated 10 areas as adaptive management areas, where experiments would be tried out, and further prescribed that the entire agency adopt adaptive management as a core part of management practice. Implementation of this goal has been poor: only two adaptive management projects have actually gotten off the ground, one in and one outside of a designated adaptive management area. This paper shows that the Forest Services vision of adaptive management as a process that could occur without the collaboration of agents outside of the bureaucracy contributed to the implementation failure. When adaptive management succeeded, it was the result of co-production between the bureaucracy, the scientific community, and other policy actors. While many recent authors have focused on the role of formally organized, place and consensus based collaboratives in improving policy outcomes, this paper illustrates the role of more complex informal collaborative and adversarial processes."

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