Exploring pathways to adaptive collaborative management : a multi-case study of the National Riparian Service Team's place-based riparian assistance Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/t435gh670

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  • Adaptive collaborative (co-) management has received increased recognition as a novel approach to environmental governance that combines the dynamic learning features of adaptive management with the linking and network features of collaborative management. This approach is concerned with fostering sustainable livelihoods and ecological sustainability in the face of uncertainty and change. Despite the growing interest in adaptive co-management, little is known about processes useful for catalyzing adaptive co-management arrangements. This paper considers the potential of a government-led initiative designed to build capacity for adaptive collaborative management. We present the results of our study comparing the outcomes of this approach to those forwarded by the adaptive co-management literature, identifying process and context factors that influence the initiative's effectiveness. A multi-case study approach was utilized to assess the degree to which the initiative helped catalyze adaptive co-management of public-lands riparian areas in seven cases in the western U.S. We found that the initiative influenced improvements in knowledge, trust among participants, and shared understanding. In most cases the initiative also helped work towards improvements in the management of specific community-level riparian issues. However, the initiative had a limited influence on the self-organization of new or modified governance arrangements capable of supporting cross-scale networks and ongoing cycles of learning from actions; key features of adaptive co-management. We found that employing adaptive co-management processes did not necessarily result in ongoing adaptive co-management arrangements. The presence of exogenous factors such as existing group capacity and facilitative leadership played an important role in determining whether the riparian initiative resulted in lasting outcomes, regardless of the approach used. We also identified constraints affecting the initiative's ability to facilitate authentic dialogue and develop high-quality agreements. Our results suggest that government-led interventions aimed at catalyzing the transformation of governance arrangements toward adaptive co-management may face significant barriers. Suggestions for future research include further investigation of the barriers and opportunities for government to help catalyze adaptive co-management, and the role of scale in the emergence of ongoing cross-scale networks.
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