Course #2. Doing and learning in a noisy, complex world: The foundations and mindset of adaptive management






Adaptive management is a systematic and structured process for learning about which interventions or decisions best meet the intended objectives of policy and decision makers while acknowledging the complexities and uncertainties that cloud scientists' understanding about how interventions affect human communities and ecosystems. It is not ad hoc; it involves a set of specific phases, steps, and elements. The purpose, content, and outcomes of this course are organized around the five training

modules with which this course is designed:


Module A: Why do we need better approaches to environmental assessment and management?

Module B: What is adaptive management and when should it be applied?

Module C: How is adaptive management conducted?

Module D: What are some enablers and inhibitors of adaptive management?

Module E: How do the pieces fit together?


The trainers will use a mix of formats and interactive learning activities where participants can draw upon their own experience to ensure that they can answer these questions when the course is complete. These modules include exploring the definition, phases, steps, and elements to highlight 40 years of "good practice". Participants will also be taught about and encouraged to reflect upon an adaptive management "mindset" which may require them to shift the way they may traditionally think about solving environmental problems.


Level: Intermediate

Prerequisites: This highly interactive course will be delivered by experienced practitioners in adaptive management. The practice of adaptive management

and nature of the learning activities designed for this course require that participants bring a depth and breadth of their own experience to enrichen the dialogue and maximize insights from these activities. Hence, course-based prerequisites are not required, but participants must have 8 or more years of professional experience in environmental impact assessment and management. IAIA sponsored student participants may be exempted from this prerequisite.

Language: English

Duration: 1 day (2 May)

Price: US$275

Min/Max: 10-40

Requirements: Participants will be required to bring their own laptops.

Instructor(s): Marc Nelitz and Darcy Pickard



Mr. Marc Nelitz


Marc has 22 years of professional experience and applies his technical expertise to help various organizations strengthen the governance, scientific rigor and relevance of their projects, actions, and programs to learn about what does and does not work in complex social-ecological systems with imperfect information and competing viewpoints of different audiences. In particular, Marc's work focuses on leading the strategic design, implementation, and evaluation of adaptive management programs.


Marc's strong technical skills in adaptive management have been developed by working in a variety of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems across North America, including the Louisiana Coast, Missouri River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Columbia River, Fraser River, Yukon River, Peace River, western Hudson Bay, north-central coast of British Columbia, and the oil sands region of Alberta.


His technical experience has also been supported by his facilitation and engagement skills developed over many years working with a diverse range of audiences. Mr. Nelitz has prepared, delivered, and facilitated hundreds of workshops, contributed university guest lectures, delivered conference presentations, and adaptive management related training courses. Specifically, he has delivered adaptive management training to hundreds of participants which has included delivering a training course to the New York Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in Cooperstown, New York and the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.




Ms. Darcy Pickard


Darcy is a Professional Statistician with over 17 years of experience. Her areas of expertise include: development of indicators and thresholds, design of monitoring and evaluation programs, data analysis, adaptive management, cumulative effects assessment, impact assessment, simulation modeling, and technical facilitation.


Darcy leads ESSA's cumulative effects analysis/environmental assessment team and has extensive experience developing and analyzing indicators and determining how to integrate data across indicators, time, and space. She has been a key contributor to numerous ecological restoration programs, bringing rigour to decisions around 'what' actions to implement 'when' and 'where', as well as 'how' to monitor and evaluate these actions. She has also been developing visual approaches (e.g., report cards or snapshots) to effectively communicate complex data to broad audiences.


Darcy has successfully applied her analytical and facilitation skills to over 150 projects throughout Canada and the United States, for a wide variety of clients and is author/coauthor of numerous technical reports and guidance documents. In addition, she taught statistics for the Department of Ecological Restoration at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for three years.