The three main ingredients of an effective adaptive management plan in a restoration project are: 1. a clear goal statement; 2. a conceptual model; and 3. a decision framework. The goal ‘drives’ the design of the project and helps guide the development of performance criteria. The goal statement and performance criteria provide the means by which the system can be judged. With the conceptual model, the knowledge base from the field of ecological science plays an active and critical role in designing the project to meet the goal. A system- development matrix provides a simple decision framework to view the alternative states for the system during development, incorporate knowledge gained through the monitoring program, and formulate a decision on actions to take if the system is not meeting its goal.