Is Adaptive Co-management Delivering? Examining Relationships Between Collaboration, Learning and Outcomes in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves

Author(s): Plummer, R., Baird, J. Dzyundzyak, A., Schultz, L., Armitage, D., and Bodin, Ö.
In: Ecological Economics, 140: 79-88.
Year: 2017
Type: Journal / article
Link to centre authors: Bodin, Örjan, Plummer, Ryan, Schultz, Lisen
Full reference: Plummer, R., Baird, J. Dzyundzyak, A., Schultz, L., Armitage, D., and Bodin, Ö. 2017. Is adaptive co-management delivering? Examining relationships between collaboration, learning and outcomes in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Ecological Economics, 140: 79-88.


This paper examines relationships among perceived processes and outcomes in four UNESCO biosphere reserves (BRs). BRs offer a unique opportunity to examine these relationships because they aim to foster more adaptive and collaborative forms of management, i.e. adaptive co-management (ACM). Accounting for the outcomes of ACM is a difficult task and little progress has been made to this end.

However, we show here that ACM efforts in all four BRs had a myriad of positive results as well as ecological and livelihood effects. Process variables of collaboration and learning explained over half (54.6%) of the variability in results and over one third (35.1%) of the variability in effects.

While the overall models for outcomes and subsequent process were not significant, the regressions revealed predictive potential for both process variables. Our analysis highlights that a better process is associated with more positive outcomes and that collaboration and learning make unique contributions to outcomes.

Opportunities for quantitative techniques to be utilized in understanding the dynamics of ACM are illustrated. Understanding relationships between process and outcomes (and vice versa) provides a sound basis to answer critiques, enhances accountability, and maximizes the potential of positive impacts for ecosystems and humans.

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