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Adaptive Management of the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon World Heritage Areas

Terence P. Hughes, Lance H. Gunderson, Carl Folke, Andrew H. Baird, David Bellwood, Fikret Berkes, Beatrice Crona, Ariella Helfgott, Heather Leslie, Jon Norberg, Magnus Nyström, Per Olsson, Henrik Österblom, Marten Scheffer, Heidi Schuttenberg, Robert S. Steneck, Maria Tengö, Max Troell, Brian Walker, James Wilson and Boris Worm. 2007 Ambio, Vol. 36, No. 7, November 2007 (2008).


Conventional perceptions of the interactions between people and their environment are rapidly transforming. Old paradigms that view humans as separate from nature, natural resources as inexhaustible or endlessly substitutable, and the world as stable, predictable, and in balance are no longer tenable. New conceptual frameworks are rapidly emerging based on an adaptive approach that focuses on learning and flexible management in a dynamic social-ecological landscape. Using two iconic World Heritage Areas as case studies (the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon) we outline how an improved integration of the scientific and social aspects of natural resource management can guide the evolution of multiscale systems of governance that confront and cope with uncertainty, risk, and change in an increasingly human-dominated world.

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Keywords: coral reefs, adaptive management, social-ecological systems

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