The Time for Holistic Management
A new approach is needed to address and reverse the most pressing global issues we currently face, yet deep paradigm shifts have great difficulty taking hold unless there exists a simultaneous need. This need has manifested itself in the form of global climate change, failed agriculture, increased droughts and flood events, catastrophic rates of soil erosion, hunger and poverty, among others, combined with the broadening recognition that our economic models, based on the flawed presumption of infinite growth in a world of finite resources, is inherently unsustainable.
The core competency of Holistic Management is the ecologically regenerative, socially sound, and economically viable management of the world’s grasslands, rangelands, and savannas. These environments comprise two-thirds of the planet’s surface area. Their degradation has accelerated in concert with the expansion of the human population (with its associated reduction and in some cases eradication of most of the world’s large wild grazing and browsing animals, the subsequent replacement with fewer numbers of more sedentary, domesticated livestock, and soil-degrading cropping practices).
Land degradation starts with a loss of soil cover (comprised of both living plants and decaying plant litter), which leads to less effective water and mineral/nutrient cycling, reduced solar energy flow, and reduced biodiversity in terms of species and numbers of individuals. This degradation can lead to the loss of previously sequestered soil carbon (a major source of our existing atmospheric CO2 load), severely degraded land or desertification, and the loss of food production capacity.
Holistic Management is the paradigm shift that will address these needs. First conceived and developed by Zimbabwean biologist, game ranger, politician, farmer, and rancher, Allan Savory over 40 years ago, Holistic Management is driven by a decision-making framework, which ensures ecological, social, and economic soundness, simultaneously, both short and long-term.
Holistic Management provides the solution to climate change, drought resilience, food and water security, and financial viability.
The Green Revolution, based on high input, industrial agriculture (massive inputs of petrochemicals and herbicides, monoculture cropping, and confinement animal feeding operations) has increased global food production tremendously, but has tended to severely degrade its ecological and socio-cultural capital base in the process.
The Green Revolution has not been characterized by ecological or social integrity—quite the contrary. Horrific soil erosion, dead zones at the mouths of rivers, severely depleted levels of biodiversity, impoverished rural communities, soil fertility loss, and oxidation of soil organic matter have been exacerbated by the Green Revolution in many places.
Decreased soil health leads to ineffective ecosystem processes which negatively impacts land health and food production capacity.