Adaptive co-management is an evolving approach for the governance of social-ecological systems. The concept of adaptive co-management comes from combining the on-going learning element of adaptive management and the relationship component of collaborative management in which rights and responsibilities are jointly shared. Adaptive co-management encourages an approach to governance that incorporates complexity and cross-scale linkages as well as the process of dynamic learning. In this regard, adaptive co-management has been described as a self-organizing process assisted by procedures and incentives of government bodies, with the potential to foster more robust social-ecological systems. Key features of adaptive co-management include:
- A focus on learning-by-doing;
- Synthesis of different knowledge systems;
- Collaboration and power-sharing among community, regional and national levels; and
- Management flexibility.
Co-management has been used in small scale fisheries as a tool to address declining fish stocks as well as for water resources for the deposit of waste and the issuance of permits. Co-management systems are often used as a resource management tool in northern Canadian aboriginal communities. These processes incorporate the use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Examples of resources include caribou, fish and whales. In the case of co-management involving aboriginal and non-aboriginal governance systems, there needs to be recognition that resource rights are held individually and collectively. It should be noted that a key component of the development of any co-management system is trust between all parties.
Danya Al-Haydari is an Environmental Planner at Hardy Stevenson and Associates Limited, where she specializes in public consultation, environmental assessment and energy policy. She has coordinated work for the Port Hope and Port Granby Projects, and conducted research on the Port Hope Area Initiative’s Property Value Protection Program. Most recently, she co-authored a paper for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization on community well-being in nuclear host communities. Danya is a member of the Canadian Nuclear Societyand Women in Nuclear Canada.