Skip to main content
'Learning by doing': adaptive planning as a strategy to address uncertainty in planning
  • Sadahisa Kato, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Jack f Ahern, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Adaptive management, an established method in natural resource and ecosystem management, has not been widely applied to landscape planning due to the lack of an operational method that addresses the role of uncertainty and standardized monitoring protocols and methods. A review of adaptive management literature and practices reveals several key concepts and principles for adaptive planning: (1) management actions are best understood and practiced as experiments; (2) several plans/experiments can be implemented simultaneously; (3) monitoring of management actions are key; and (4) adaptive management can be understood as ‘learning by doing’. The paper identifies various uncertainties in landscape planning as the major obstacles for the adoption of an adaptive approach. To address the uncertainty in landscape planning, an adaptive planning method is proposed where monitoring plays an integral role to reduce uncertainty. The proposed method is then applied to a conceptual test in water resource planning addressing abiotic-biotic-cultural resources. To operationalize adaptive planning, it is argued that professionals, stakeholders and researchers need to function in a genuinely transdisciplinary mode where all contribute to, and benefit from, decision making and the continuous generation of new knowledge.
  • adaptive management,
  • adaptive planning,
  • monitoring,
  • transdisciplinarity,
  • uncertainty,
  • water resource planning
Publication Date
July 1, 2008
DOI: 10.1080/09640560802117028
Citation Information
Sadahisa Kato and Jack f Ahern. "'Learning by doing': adaptive planning as a strategy to address uncertainty in planning" (2008)
Available at: