There is a fundamental rift between how ecologists and lawyers view uncertainty. In the study of ecology, uncertainty is a catalyst for exploration, the raison d'être. However, uncertainty is antithetical to the rule of law. This incongruence is particularly troubling in environmental management, where the dissonance between law and ecology becomes apparent. Rather than acknowledge uncertainties in management actions, legal frameworks often force a spurious certitude in linking cause and effect.
Although adaptive management has been developed to confront scientific uncertainty, laws and legal wrangling can be obstacles to implementation. We recommend resilience-based ecosystem governance—adaptive governance—as a concept to begin bridging the rift between law and ecology.