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Everglades Adaptive Management Plan

Meridian led the development of an adaptive management strategy to restore Florida’s ecosystems—and then co-created a field test to help balance biodiversity protection and flood control in the Everglades.

The Everglades provide drinking water for more than 8 million people in South Florida, support local agriculture, and meet other key water demands. As environmental and human threats to the Everglades intensify, so does the importance of protecting and properly managing this ecosystem: people and habitats depend on it. When ecosystem managers realized the unintended consequences of decades-long development projects—including habitat fragmentation, declining animal populations, and water quality degradation—Meridian helped them turn the tide through an adaptive management strategy to restore the Everglades.

Water managers rely on predictive models that anticipate the impacts of water management on ecological conditions. However, these models can not always predict which management actions will produce the desired ecological responses. To solve the problem, an inter-agency task force met in order to develop an adaptive management strategy—creating an iterative, scientific approach to improve resource management by learning from previous outcomes.  

Meridian worked with the task force to apply this strategy by designing a field test to assess multiple options for achieving ecosystem improvements. We organized and facilitated a stakeholder engagement process to bring the perspectives of water managers, recreational users, tribal governments, environmental advocates, and policymakers to the forefront of the field tests’ design. Our ability to navigate technical complexities alongside human interests led to an impactful solution; our strategy was adopted by the Army Corps of Engineers, and continues to improve water management and ecosystem restoration in the Everglades.