Allan Savory

Ashoka Fellow
Zimbabwe,
Fellow Since 2012
Savory Institute

Citation

This profile was prepared when Allan Savory was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Mainstream science and traditional land management techniques have failed to deal with the complexity of desertification in Africa, often attributing it to the overstocking of livestock, communal land tenure, and overpopulation. Although much has been done to encourage people to destock, resettle, and move away from livestock-based livelihoods, desertification and environmental deterioration continue to worsen. Allan’s singular insight is that grasslands and herbivores evolved in step with one another; and that livestock, if properly managed and kept on the move, can be an important tool in the prevention and recovery of deforested land. While many see livestock as a barrier to adequately rested and healthy land, Allan has demonstrated that we can recover and prevent desertified land by changing the management of livestock so that it mimics the behavior of the once vast herds of grazing animals and predators of Africa’s savannahs.

Allan is proving that the way we treat our rangelands is critical to reversing desertification and combating climate change by bringing a unique understanding of how we can mimic the natural functioning of animals and rangelands to heal the land and lock carbon into soils. Unlike conventional techniques that promote the removal of cattle and the resting of land, Allan argues that, while livestock may be part of the problem, they can also be an important part of the solution. Grass needs to be grazed in order to be healthy, and animals stimulate plant growth and their waste provides nutrient-rich fertilizer for the soil. Additionally, they cycle dead plants back to the surface, which allows sunlight to reach the low-growing parts. When a predator comes onto the scene, the animals bunch together and flee as a herd, their hooves breaking up and aerating the soil. Then, on a new patch of land, the process starts again. In this way, all plants are nibbled on but none are overgrazed. This also prevents the land from over resting, which leads to accumulated dead plant material that blocks sunlight and hinders new growth. Allan’s Holistic Management framework includes land management techniques that allow livestock to mimic this natural, and much needed behavior of animals and results in increased land productivity, water availability, wildlife diversity, and improved livelihoods for those who depend on the land.

Allan has demonstrated time and again in Africa, Australia, and North America that properly managed livestock are essential to land restoration. With the right techniques, plant growth is lusher, the water table is higher, wildlife thrives and soil carbon increases. Thousands of land, livestock, and wildlife managers use his methodology and are demonstrating consistent results on over 30 million acres across four continents. Today, thousands of families, corporations, and businesses are successfully using Allan’s insight to radically improve the quality of their lives and regenerate the resource base that sustains them.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You