Strategies for sustainable management of renewable resources during environmental change


Emilie Lindkvist, Örjan Ekeberg, Jon Norberg

Journal or Book Title: Proceedings B

Keywords: natural resource management, adaptive management, learning-by-doing, reinforcement learning, growth, climate change

Volume/Issue: 284: 20162762

Page Number(s): 8

Year Published: 2017


As a consequence of global environmental change, management strategies that can deal with unexpected change in resource dynamics are becoming increasingly important. In this paper we undertake a novel approach to studying resource growth problems using a computational form of adaptive management to find optimal strategies for prevalent natural resource management dilemmas. We scrutinize adaptive management, or learning-by-doing, to better understand how to simultaneously manage and learn about a system when its dynamics are unknown. We study important trade-offs in decision-making with respect to choosing optimal actions (harvest efforts) for sustainable management during change. This is operationalized through an artificially intelligent model where we analyze how different trends and fluctuations in growth rates of a renewable resource affect the performance of different management strategies. Our results show that the optimal strategy for managing resources with declining growth is capable of managing resources with fluctuating or increasing growth at a negligible cost, creating in a management strategy that is both efficient and robust towards future unknown changes. To obtain this strategy, adaptive management should strive for: high learning rates to new knowledge, high valuation of future outcomes and modest exploration around what is perceived as the optimal action.


Type of Publication: Journal Article

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing