Below is the link for a very interesting and very insightful youtube video detailing the concept and evolution of adaptive management. Dr. Bryan Norton at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that one common reason for many arguments between environmental economists and environmental ethicists is that both disciplines have become too focused and inter-locked on conflicting disciplinary terminology. Norton elaborates that nature should not be broken up into ‘chunks’ – i.e. should not be evaluated for its monitory value or moral value, but rather decisions should be made based by assessing a variety of different options. By evaluating the pros and cons of different alternative a more ‘pluralistic’ and ‘holistic’ approach can then be adopted. Norton suggests that the best tool to be used to achieve this is adaptive management.


Norton also refers to the Wolf-Deer story in describing his whole-systems approach. The analogy is that once upon a time a resource manager/ economists tried to maximize the amount of deer that could be hunted by killing off the wolves. However, it was not anticipated that 8 years later during the winter 90% of deer froze to death. Norton uses this story to emphasize that when addressing problems and making decisions you need to think like the ‘mountain’ and address all the processes that are occuring within a natural habitat, rather than focusing and isolating one particular element within a system.


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