Allan Savory: How to Green the World’s Deserts and Reverse Climate Change

Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk (now viewed by 4-million).

And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it.

He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

Note: This post originally appeared on the Circle Ranch blog in March, 2013

Allan Savory works to promote holistic management in the grasslands of the world.

Desertification of the world’s grasslands, Allan Savory suggests, is the immediate cause of poverty, social breakdown, violence, cultural genocide — and a significent contribution to climate change. In the 1960s, while working in Africa on the interrelated problems of increasing poverty and disappearing wildlife, Savory made a significant breakthrough in understanding the degradation and desertification of grassland ecosystems. After decades of study and collaboration, thousands of managers of land, livestock and wildlife on five continents today follow the methodology he calls “Holistic Management.”

In 1992, Savory and his wife, Jody Butterfield, formed the 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.

“Allan’s message is vital to the restoration of the world’s grasslands — a long-ignored component of the earth’s lungs.”

Circle Ranch - Chris and Allan

“Chris Gill and Allan Savory at Circle Ranch seminar, comparing the different plant responses between areas that had been grazed (shown here) and burned.”

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