Adaptive Management

In typical, traditional dredging contracts, the client or project owner gives clear, strict and static descriptions of project targets. The contractor can then go straight to the technical solution. Interaction during execution was limited or non-existent.

Adaptive management allows the client or project owner to formulate project goals on a more strategic level, even on a global scale, engaging the contractor right from the start to realise integrated, that is, operational-technical-environmental-economic, targets.
Contractors using adaptive management can then change their operational strategies during different phases of a project. Measuring the effects of their work as it progresses allows them to evaluate the impacts on the ecosystem and its services and can help them adjust to uncertainties.
As adaptive management allows for initial project targets to be adapted or reformulated, the contractor can take into account what is learned along the way by comparing baseline monitoring with iterative monitoring results. If new information is discovered, for instance, during field testing, design, environmental monitoring or execution, the operations can be adapted to this new information.

Adaptive management requires acceptance of a few fundamental premises:

  • a commitment from the dredging project owner and contractors to temporary, more intensive monitoring, evaluation and adjustments;
  • a higher budget and more resources for monitoring, evaluation and adjustments;
  • a mechanism to manage lower or higher efforts as required by newly identified circumstances;
  • a mechanism to manage total costs that differ from the initial calculation;
  • strong cross-sectoral project management skills; and
  • flexibility for changes in the implementation timeframe.


Applying an adaptive management framework allows contractors to keep the client informed, to make informed decisions themselves and to adapt operational strategies when necessary.

“Facts About Adaptive Management” answers essential questions such as:

  • What is adaptive management?
  • How does an adaptive management framework work?
  • What is modelling and how can it affect the working method?
  • What is adaptive monitoring?
  • What is baseline monitoring?
  • What is real-time monitoring?
  • Will adaptive management be more utilised?