The Good News

The good news is that land degradation can in most cases be reversed, and successful case studies have presented themselves across the globe. From Canada to Patagonia, Europe to the Sahel, and Australia to the Mongolian Steppe, Holistic Management practitioners have experienced the regeneration of the grasslands they depend upon for one simple reason: a change in management of grasslands.

These are environments coevolved in the presence of large grazing herbivores, in conjunction with their pack-hunting predators, and they are characterized by seasonal or erratic rainfall, and extended periods of the year with very low atmospheric and soil humidity. The presence of these large herbivores, interacting with their landscapes the way nature intended, is critical. Via the skillful practice of Holistic Planned Grazing, we can effectively mimic this behavior, reversing land degradation, and generating solar-based profit in the process. In these environments, ranches and grazing lands should be moving to ever-larger management units, allowing for larger herds.

The implications of taking this management approach to scale in the grasslands of the world are massive. Slight increases in soil organic matter, over these huge portions of the earth’s land surface area, may result in the long-term safe and natural sequestration of many gigatons of carbon. In effect, we would be putting masses of carbon back where it belongs—in the soil—and more importantly, where it can actually do some good. Organically rich soils feed soil bacteria, protozoans, and fungi, active populations of which lead to ever greater plant-available nutrients and less and less dependence on outside fertilizer inputs.

Soils that are higher in organic matter also possess greater water holding capacity, thereby increasing drought resilience and water infiltration, which may lead to regenerating aquifer and ground water reserves critical for cities and communities throughout the globe. In the process of doing this—in effect, mimicking nature—there is no creation of “waste” as it actually becomes an asset, input costs are dramatically reduced, animals tend to be healthier and more productive, and attractive profits (based on ecological integrity, or true wealth, derived directly from the sun) are the result. Of course, we also are producing nutrient-dense, pasture-produced protein—exactly what our Paleolithic, hunter/gatherer-evolved physiology is designed to consume.

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