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Consideration of reference points for the management of renewable resources under an adaptive management paradigm

December 1, 2013

The success of natural resource management depends on monitoring, assessment and enforcement. In support of these efforts, reference points (RPs) are often viewed as critical values of management-relevant indicators. This paper considers RPs from the standpoint of objective-driven decision making in dynamic resource systems, guided by principles of structured decision making (SDM) and adaptive resource management (AM). During the development of natural resource policy, RPs have been variously treated as either ‘targets’ or ‘triggers’. Under a SDM/AM paradigm, target RPs correspond approximately to value-based objectives, which may in turn be either of fundamental interest to stakeholders or intermediaries to other central objectives. By contrast, trigger RPs correspond to decision rules that are presumed to lead to desirable outcomes (such as the programme targets). Casting RPs as triggers or targets within a SDM framework is helpful towards clarifying why (or whether) a particular metric is appropriate. Further, the benefits of a SDM/AM process include elucidation of underlying untested assumptions that may reveal alternative metrics for use as RPs. Likewise, a structured decision-analytic framework may also reveal that failure to achieve management goals is not because the metrics are wrong, but because the decision-making process in which they are embedded is insufficiently robust to uncertainty, is not efficiently directed at producing a resource objective, or is incapable of adaptation to new knowledge.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Consideration of reference points for the management of renewable resources under an adaptive management paradigm
DOI 10.1017/S0376892913000222
Authors Brian J. Irwin, Michael J. Conroy
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Conservation
Series Number
Index ID 70148147
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

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