Adaptive Management to Protect Biodiversity: Best Available Science and the Endangered Species Act
Diversity, Vol. 4, p. 164, 2012
15 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2012
Date Written: March 30, 2012
Although flawed, the most powerful tool for protecting biodiversity in the United States is the Endangered Species Act, which requires the use of the best available science to ensure that endangered and threatened species are not put in jeopardy of extinction. Unfortunately, the best available science mandate is virtually meaningless and imposes no additional scientific rigor in agency decision making beyond what is normally required of administrative procedures. In this paper, we propose to define best available science in a way that shifts from a way of using science to a way of doing science, and a sound method of doing science for wildlife management and climate change is via the principles of adaptive management. Adaptive management, as a means of data accumulation and continuous learning, can fulfill and give teeth to the best available science mandate while increasing the adaptive capacity of wildlife management agencies to protect biodiversity in an unpredictably dynamic environment.
Keywords: Endangered Species Act, adaptive management, best available science, climate change law, biodiversity, adaptive capacity, environmental law, front-end policy
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