Implementation of any stand prescription or forest management plan is done with some uncertainty that the actions will achieve the desired results. Nothing in life is certain (except death!). Following implementation, managers should expect to change plans based on measurements taken to see if the implemented plan is meeting their needs. If not, then mid-course corrections will be necessary. Many natural resource management organizations use some form of adaptive management as a way of anticipating changes to plans and continually improving them (Baker and Read 2011; McCaw et al. 2011, Westgate et al. 2013).
Adaptive management is a process to find better ways of meeting natural resource management goals by treating management as a hypothesis (Allan and Stankey 2009). The results of the process also identify gaps in our understanding of ecosystem responses to management activities. Adaptive management incorporates learning into the process, and the data collected during monitoring provides feedback about the effectiveness of preferred or alternative management practices. The information gained from the process can help to reduce the uncertainty associated with ecosystem and human system responses to management, but successful adaptive management projects are not common (Howes et al. 2010). Westgate et al. (2013) reviewed 1336 scientific papers describing adaptive management projects, of which only 13 applied the concepts of adaptive management to the problem. Westgate et al. (2013) suggested that attempts to apply adaptive management could be improved by better collaboration between scientists and stakeholders, better risk analysis associated with not conducting adaptive management, and ensuring that projects are relevant to the management needs of the affected stakeholders.