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A.2-3: Closing thoughts: building momentum through adaptive learning

Presented by David W. Howerter - Email: d_howerter@ducks.ca

"The 2012 revision of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) and subsequent 2018 update confirmed that waterfowl management is now striving explicitly to affect social-ecological systems, not just ducks and wetland habitat. This stems from a growing recognition that meaningful progress in conservation requires both consideration of shifting human values and affecting human behaviors. This shift to formally integrate people into waterfowl conservation has led to rapid progress in efforts to better understand what motivates a variety of constituent groups to engage in waterfowl conservation activities. Adaptive management (AM) approaches have proven helpful for learning and improving waterfowl habitat and harvest management, and it seems logical to look at our new people-focused initiatives through a similar lens. Interest has increased lately in hunter recruitment, retention and re-activation (R3) programs. Likewise, research, public education and public policy initiatives around the ecological goods and services (EGS) enhanced by wetland/grassland/watershed conservation are multiplying. Evaluations of the efficacy of such efforts have lagged, however. As with any AM problem, we need to ensure that our human dimension initiatives have clear objectives and verifiable outcomes. If they are viewed as means objectives, are the initiatives resulting in gains for the fundamental objectives to which they relate? A related challenge is understanding how results of attitudinal surveys translate into observable behavior, specifically, how efforts to affect people’s attitude actually affect meaningful behavioral choices. We challenge the waterfowl management community to collaboratively engage with social scientists and other human dimensions specialists to apply adaptive approaches for these expanding HD investments.
Session: Assessing & Adapting HD Initiatives (Tuesday, August 27, 10:30 to 12:00)