Making monitoring count: Project design for active adaptive management

Andrew J. Larson, R. Travis Belote, Matthew A. Williamson, Gregory H. Aplet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Ongoing environmental change requires that managers develop strategies capable of achieving multiple objectives in an uncertain future. Active adaptive management (AAM) offers a robust approach to reducing uncertainty while also considering diverse stakeholder perspectives. Important features of AAM include recognition of learning as a management objective, integration of monitoring throughout all aspects of project design and implementation, and use of experimental design in project planning. These features facilitate collaborator engagement and adaptive management based on credible inferences about treatment effects. AAM is not research: the primary goal in AAM is to meet management objectives, one of which is to learn about tradeoffs among alternative management approaches. We outline a pragmatic method to enhance the value of monitoring by incorporating experimental design principles into project planning, including a checklist of key questions for decisionmakers and stakeholders, and illustrate these concepts with an example from the Helena National Forest, Montana, USA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-356
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Forestry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Collaboration
  • National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)
  • Science-based management


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