Renewable natural resources provide important contributions to food, fiber, and recreation in many parts of the world. The economies of some regions a r e heavily dependent on fisheries and forestry, and consumptive use of wildlife (hunting) is a traditional recreational pastime across Europe and North America. The management of renewable resources usually involves public agencies that are responsible for harvest regulation, and often production enhancement, so as to provide sustainable yields into the long-term future (resource husbandry). The track record of such agencies has been spotty: many resources have been mined to low levels before effective harvest regulation could be developed, while others have been managed so conservatively as to miss major harvesting opportunities.
Three key features of renewable resources have made them difficult to manage. First, sustainable production depends on leaving behind a "capital" stock after each harvesting, and there are definite limits to the production rates that this stock can maintain. Second, harvesting is normally undertaken by a community or industry of harvesters whose activities (investment, searching, etc.) are not completely monitored or regulated, so that dynamic responses, such as overcapitalization of fishing fleets, are common. Third, the biological relationships between managed stock size and production rates arises through a complex interplay between the organisms and their surrounding ecosystem; for any particular population, this relationship cannot be predicted in advance from ecological principles and must, instead, be learned through actual management experience.
- Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources: An Overview of an IlASA Book