How can cattle help us fight back desertification?


In this informative TED talk, biologist and environmentalist Allan Savory talks about the need to mimic nature – by using livestock. Challenging the belief that cattle grazing causes desertification, he claims we can even reduce atmospheric carbon levels to that of pre-industrialization era by the means of Holistic management.

Allan begins with ‘perfect storm’ bearing down upon us in the form of climate change and rejects the notion that technology alone will help eradicate it. He points out that it can only solve problem of fossil fuels, whereas burning fossils is not the only cause of climate change. Furthering to desertification, he reminds us that about 2/3 of world’s area is desertifying and how accelerating desertification can be stopped, and how degraded lands can be reclaimed by adopting holistic management.


Born in Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe), Allan is known for his work in the field of land management. Holistic management was his brainchild, which Wikiepedia defines as “a systems thinking approach to managing resources that builds biodiversity, improves production, generates financial strength, enhances sustainability, and improves the quality of life for those who use it”. He faced detention because of his involvement in protests against racist policies in Rhodesia and went on self-imposed exile to continue his scientific work. He is president of Savory Institute, which works with individuals, government agencies, NGOs, and corporations to restore the vast grasslands of the world through the teaching and practice of holistic management and holistic decision-making. In his book, Holistic Management: A New Decision Making Framework, he talks about the Holistic approach of dealing with desertification by increasing livestock activity.

On TED.com

Featured image: Cattle concentrated around a waterhole near Bamako, Mali, Africa. (Credit: Manfred Schweda


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