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Monitoring is one part of adaptive management which is a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programs. Some of the differentiating characteristics of adaptive management are:
- Acknowledgement of uncertainty about what treatment (or no treatment) is "best" for the particular management issue
- Thoughtful selection of the treatments to be applied (the assessment and design stages of the cycle)
- Careful implementation of a treatment designed to reveal the critical knowledge that is currently lacking
- Monitoring of key response indicators
- Analysis of the treatment outcomes in consideration of the original objectives
- Incorporation of the results into treatment decision
The Government Accountability Office evaluated the adaptive management process for emergency stabilization and burned area rehabilitation and found:
- Most burned land recovered naturally; however, in those relatively few instances where burnt lands threaten safety, ecosystems, or cultural
resources, emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments can play a
critical role—a role that is emphasized by the appropriations Congress has
dedicated to post wildfire treatments.
- The treatments use to protect and restore
burnt lands appear, on the face of it, to be reasonable. For the most part,
however, bureaus are approving treatment plans
without comprehensive information on the extent to which a treatment is
likely to be effective given the severity of the wildfire, the weather, soil, and
- Studies have been done that recognize
the need for information on treatment effectiveness, but they have not
emphasized the importance of collecting, storing, analyzing, and
disseminating such data.
And recommended that the Secretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior require the heads of their respective land management agencies to:
- Specify procedures to be used to monitor treatment effectiveness, include type and extent of monitoring data collected and methods to collect these data
- Develop an interagency system to collect, store, and disseminate information on monitoring results.