Saturday, April 6, 2013

TED Talk - Reversing desertification by using wholistic, planned grazing

Hello everyone,

I hope you are well.

Since my last post, and quite by coincidence, I've run across more condemnations of Canada's being ordered to pull out of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and I've listened to a terrific TED Talk by Allan Savory in which he discusses a livestock grazing technique that heals the land, encourages plant growth, and must surely have a lot of positive effects on water retention in the soil.

The talk, How Holistic Mob Grazing Can Green Desertified Grasslands and Reverse Global Warming, is found at 

In this presentation, ecologist Allan Savory explains how planned, wholistic grazing of livestock - with its mix of dung, urine and trampling grasses into a more easily decomposed mass by the next growing season - works to speed up decomposition of vegetation and ultimately makes for better soil that grows more plants which have more roots to hold soil. Basically, the wholistic, planned grazing is a way of having less bare soil; bare soil is much more prone to losing water, which leads to erosion.  Savory also points out how the system is tied to carbon and water, so becomes a way of retaining carbon in the soil; this could help lower the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Overgrazing by livestock had been thought to be a main cause of desertification, as well as a source of environmental methane.  But examples from US national parks - where by one means or another large  herds of grazers and their predators were removed - show large areas of increasing desert conditions, and  rising temperatures in the microclimates.  Examples from other countries too show that we need to understand an entire ecosystem to reverse desertification ...including the cycles of humid and dry seasons.  Plants grow differently under those circumstances. Particularly, there's not enough plant growth during a dry season to keep soil covered; covered soil holds moisture in.

Argh!  Me trying to explain this!  Well, check out Savory's talk.  He gets all the technical points in more easily than I can. And you get to see the changes brought about by the planned grazing. The photos are really exciting

As I listened to Savory I wondered whether two people dedicated to wholistic land management knew about Savory: Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms and a dedicated livestock shifter; and Prince Charles, who is an organics advocate and concerned with rainforest and natural area conservation.  Both did.  No surprise.

There are a few more things I want to write about - like David Suzuki's column on Canada pulling out of the UNCCD effort,  but I've got to get at making dinner.. 

Ah, realities.

Take care!

Why's Woman

Africa Centre for Holistic Management ( in Zimbabwe, a learning site for people all over Africa. In 2010, the Centre won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for its work in reversing desertification.
In that same year he and his wife, with others, founded the Savory Institute ( in Boulder, Colorado, to promote large-scale restoration of the world's grasslands.

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