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Campaign to get the UN to offer training to livestock owners and landowners in Allan Savory's Holistic Management techniques.

The biggest challenge in implementing Allan's ideas and methods is to get livestock owners and land managers to take up these ideas. To my knowledge Allan's TED talk might be the biggest platform this method and idea has ever had.
Allan and Holistic Management International have a huge amount of resources and teaching methods that they have developed to help people implement this very simple solution. Much of this is documented in Allan's two books as well as other material. However they would not appear to be especially well funded and the cost of the training is reasonably high.
The TED community has the opportunity to ride on the back of the interest this talk will hopefully spark and start a campaign get the UN and other large bodies to offer funding to Savory's organizations to train trainers. Currently the cost of training for Holistic Management International's Certified Educator Training Program is $7,700 which is comprehensive. According to the website there are only 19 approved mentors for this program.
The world is in desperate need of thousands of these educators who are able to spread the word and the ideas in their localities.
The cost of training 10,000 educators in this program would be $77,000,000. On a world scale this is nothing, but the impact these trainers would have would be incredibly far reaching and an extremely efficient use of money.

This is the biggest platform that THe Savory method has ever had and the if the TED community is able to in some way act on this, the results could potentially be astonishing!

Any ideas?

  • Mar 5 2013: Please also note that Allan Savory isn't associated with Holistic Management International. He only works with his foundation, the Savory Institute. As a result, we only endorse the work of organizations or individuals that use Allan's body of knowledge through Savory Institute and out accreditation program.

    That said, Colin's post on behalf of spreading Allan's ideas and becoming certified is very welcome and appreciated. Savory Institute offers both accreditation training and a program for establishing regional training and demonstration that we call Savory Hubs. Please get in touch with us at for all the details. Thank you again, Colin and thank you to the TED community for the humbling wave of support.

    Savory Institute
  • Mar 14 2013: The TED talk inspired me to find out more. If you want a summary to post so that people can find out more, here's a blog post you can use:

    I ordered, and just received the two books (listed at the bottom of the post). I'm only a few pages in, but I am already seeing that, as important as the range management is, under standing the decision-making process is prior, and prime.

    I am looking forward to seeing, and joining in, discussions with people who have read both books. There's more to Allan Savory (and all the many people working with him) than you can pick up in a 20-minute video, however good.

    Guess what I will be doing onthe four-hour flight from Orlando to Denver tomorrow!
  • Mar 14 2013: Hi Colin Gordon,

    Mr Savory's methods definitely need to have the weight of the United Nations behind them. I suggest that someone start a campaign with the website Avaaz. Well worded campaigns on Avaaz garner huge attention and can generate large petitions.
  • Mar 9 2013: The UN ?? Fantastic idea - other large bodies ?? Super !! What about other influential people like Al Gore - Maybe Al would welcome a change from only telling us that global warming is real & anthropogenic, &, yes, we've absolutely got to stop producing so many greenhouse gases, & yes, we've got to wean ourselves off fossil fuels & go renewable, but if Mr Gore knew about some really good WAYS OF ACTUALLY REMOVING CO2 FROM THE BIOSPHERE he could tack such stories on to the end of his talks & leave everyone with a very, very nice taste in their mouths. And Allan Savory method is not the only good - no great - news, we can remove CO2 by turning organic waste into biochar, & by making "eco-cement" (look it up, you'll be amazed). And what about growing your own vegies - as does 'the Guerilla Gardener" in LA. What a fantastic idea. My sister already does it - dining on home grown organic vegies ??!!! Wow.

    How do we contact the UN ??!!! How do we contact Al Gore?
  • Mar 6 2013: Hi Colin - Margriet O'Regan from Australia here. As I'v raved on about (waxed eloquent) in my comments on the Allan Savory 'conversations' site at TED - down here in Australia we already have an Allan Savory in the person of one Peter Andrews (books 'Back From the Brink' & 'Beyond the Brink') whose work pretty much exactly parallels Allan's. I could not recommend more highly that whatever we do to promote this particular all-round win/win/win/win solution (Peter calls his method 'natural sequence farming') let's collaborate in every way including getting Peter Andrews & Allan Savory - & whatever organisations with which each is already associated - to network together with each other & with us all. Please also read Peter's books & there is a web site where there already exists some form of promotion of his work. I'll check that out & get back to you.
  • Mar 5 2013: This would be a campaign against science.
    • Mar 6 2013: Hi Sam - Margriet O'Regan here - an Australian. Re your comments that this particular kind of desert reclamation work has not only not been conducted in a properly scientific manner but has received few citations. In some high contrast I myself have posted a number of highly supportive comments on the Allan Savory 'conversations' TED site in which I extol to the heavens not just Allan but one Peter Andrews a fellow Australian down here who's work essentially exactly matches Allan Savory's. Peter openly states that he is not a 'qualified' 'scientist' & makes no pretense to be so except to note that anyone who cares to observe his reclamation work can see with their own eyes using their everyday common sense exactly what is going on. Sure it would be great to have 'qualified/certified' scientific support for this but, heck, scientists (not science itself) have been wrong or just inattentive in the past. One of the biggest hurdles to due & proper 'scientific' verification is that these days many if not most, scientists have to work exclusively as to $$$ grants & as essentially all granting bodies expect to get big bucks back from any research they sponsor, any project that promises little - or in this kind of grass-roots re-greening enterprise - NO patentable returns, our world & all its 7 billion-&-counting inhabitants may never ever get the benefit of these amateur mavericks, unless we just use our own god-given common sense & examine their work make our own judgement calls without waiting for the recognized experts to catch up.
    • Mar 6 2013: Hi Sam, Your link appears not to support your argument. Yes, while the report does argue that various systems of grazing had little effect above and beyond that of the stocking rate(p57), it argues this in the context of "in the absence of adaptive management". The report seems to assume the reader knows the definition of adaptive management, which I don't, so you'll have to excuse me if I'm a touch off base here, but adaptive management sounds akin to holistic management meaning that the argument wouldn't apply.
      If I'm completely wrong about that, not to worry - the report continues: "However, the potential contributions of grazing systems to broader conservation goals and ecosystem services, at landscape or regional scales, and their potential interactions with adaptive management have yet to be evaluated." (p57-8)
      Given that one of Mr. Savory's primary arguments appears to be concerning stocking rate (he wants a *lot* of animals on an area) and that his purposes are directly related to "broader conservation goals and ecosystem services" I think this particular report has very little to offer the debate within this thread.
      At the very least, I would argue that until large scale controlled trials are conducted of Mr. Savory's particular method - not just any "prescribed grazing" method - you cannot convincingly argue that his method has been disproved.
  • Mar 24 2013: I agree this is a big solution to a big problem yet there are small local solutions also handled by the Joel Salatin methods of pairing animals to create the same effects seen in the grassland that Alan Savory shows, which are Permaculturally applied with no pathology in any of the process of land management, creating deep mulches appropriately designed by Joel with deep feather bedding, having chickens on mobile tractors to scratch & eat insects where the cattle are selectively grazing in a very small portion of his 600 acre tract & moved in tandem while in the coop rabbits run & fertilize the deep beds of feathers below, & water is gravity fed with no machines or pumps necessary. Or Geoff Lawton who greened the desert by observing permaculture principles of swales on contour instead of engineer-straight lines, setting sheet mulch thick & planting 7 succession layers from below ground tubers to tall trees appropriately over the swales to bring back mushrooms, figs & water in Jordan where digging more than 20 feet down yielded salt in meager water deeply found to no potable use, also finding in rehabilitation of the desert that salt had been encapsulated to neutralize its effects in the water. So here we can count on big solutions & small, appropriate solutions all, that together can save the world. Our tiny local individual gardens as well can contribute to greening & desertification; all land can follow the same principle of being covered by deep sheet mulches, worms, green manures & compost layers from everyday life, sowing with perennials & companion planting in guilds that offer maximum local slow solutions to sink all local water into the ground & rain gardens via curb cuts in overdeveloped roads instead of channeling stormwater underground into dying streams lakes & rivers. We all can learn Permaculture methods & EcoMachines, place small & large solutions in our town & city Comprehensive plans & apply them in rural & underdeveloped areas at minimal cost.
  • Mar 16 2013: We can restore vegetation without the use of livestock! Savory's methods do not provide a solution for many developing and under developed nations, a reliance on livestock is unsustainable in the face of disease or infections which may decimate a whole heard of livestock. Grasslands do not provide biologic diversity in the same degree as forested lands. Forests not only provide natural habitat and sequester Carbon, they provide shade and shelter, they restore hydrologic cycles and capture more rainwater than a grassland ever could, and they prevent sediment from coming lose and running off into streams and rivers. Supporting natural habitat is important, and that means incorporating the local herbivores and their predators as opposed to integrating non-native species whose effects on the land cannot be foretold, whereas the native species have thrived in a region for thousands of years.
    Savory's methods provide one thing, a mass quantity of livestock which do not provide a developing community with the nutrition necessary to thrive, the intensive work involved in managing livestock is not justified by the end result. Whereas a Permaculture system incorporates many species, is self sustaining and provides abundant bio-diversity, shelter, produces it's own mulch and restores natural ecological systems and hydrologic cycles. With this system, as has been demonstrated, you can grow an abundant amount of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs without the incorporation of livestock. Retrieving MUCH higher yields with minimal input. It is a win win scenario for everyone involved! I'd say it's a MUCH better option than Savory's.
    Permaculture is a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained horticultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems. Learn more for yourself! Watch "Green Gold" or look it up.
  • Mar 16 2013: Campaign on Permaculture instead, a much better solution, especially for developing countries!
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    Mar 13 2013: I have waited a couple of weeks after returning from TEDActive to write this post. I had hoped that my feelings of intense disappointment and disillusionment would dissipate, but they haven't. Would someone please explain the selection of Allan Savory for a TEDTalk, knowing that he had systematically exterminated 40,000 majestic elephants, as a result of his incorrect hypothesis? He did not even consider minimizing his recklessness by testing his theory on a much smaller population, in a smaller area. He removed native people from their land, destroyed 40,000 elephants and THEN discovered he was wrong. How can this barbarian be invited to speak at TED?!

    Additionally, Mr. Savory’s newest hair brained hypothesis flies in the face of widely accepted research about the root causes of desertification - including global warming, short-sighted over-planting, feeding methane releasing livestock instead of adopting vegetarianism, and deforestation.

    I am a foster mother to a couple of orphaned baby elephants at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Both of them were rescued after having witnessed poachers murder their mothers for their tusks. Some of the orphans die of grief. The ones who survive are greeted and surrounded in a literal circle of love by the other orphans, trunk to tail. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the only organization that releases orphaned elephants back into the wild. After two years of care, they are ready to return to the African wilderness. The Sheldrick graduates send a subterranean message to each other, and then arrive from miles away to “pick up” the newest member of the herd.

    If Allan Savory feels any guilt for his grievous crime against nature, he can help -http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust. It is my fervent hope that the TED organizers would choose to invite real humanitarians like Dr. Daphne Sheldrick, Dr. Jane Goodall, Ric O'Barry - Dolphin Project, Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, among others. Please add to the list - I will be happy to forward it.
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      Mar 13 2013: It is clear that in the couple of weeks waiting, you did not bother to read any of the 700+ comments on the talk. If you had you realize that being a foster mother to a couple of orphaned baby elephants is nothing compared to what he is doing.

      You should thank him, because if not for his work your elephants would likely grow up only knowing a hard life in a desert.
  • Mar 11 2013: I would personally love to see a synergy of Allan Savory's hollistic management and Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement.
  • Mar 8 2013: Is there a significant difference in continuous stocking vs. intensive managed grazing? If I condense my cattle into sections of grazing area, thereby increasing the grazing density for a small area for a short period of time, how is that inferior to a lightly stocked larger area for the duration of the grazing season? I listened to the talk and Mr. Savory seemed to be making an argument for using methods that mimic the animals natural behavior. To me this is a low tech solution with multiple benefits and I'm rather pleased with the simplicity of it and its potential for broad implementation.

    One more thought, how would continuous light stocking work as a means of restoration in a blighted area? Would that not require continuous feeding of the animals to prevent death by starvation until the landscape could produce a susatainable level of forage? How would continuously grazed and unrested pasture regenerate?
    • Mar 9 2013: Andy.

      Here are some basic principles underlying Savory's work in using livestock to mimic the herds and predators that once co-evolved and existed with the grassland environments. Beyond these basic, the planned grazing process helps a livestock owner work out the greater details needed to really work with the complexity of a landscape, weather, livestock health, wildlife moving in and out, etc.
      Grasslands need two things - disturbance and grazing that removes the leaf and then leaves the plant to regrow leaf and rebuild root. When we use larger areas and/or lower densities and longer periods, the density is insufficient for the disturbance needed on the soil surface, the plants get regrazed before they can recover their leaf and root. Also, over time, the animals go back again and again to the new green shoots coming up, thus, grazing the plant to death (because it needs to recover leaf and root); other plants get no grazing (because the animal will most often choose the greenest freshest leaf) and these ungrazed plants end up with too much dead material on top, can't get sunlight to their growth points and die of "over rest." In your first example, the smaller, higher density on a quicker move will likely be healthier than the lightly stock, larger area scenario. On your second thought, light continuous stocking is what these grasslands have had for a very long time and they are, under this practice, deteriorating. So, it has not proven to be an effective approach to restoring a blighted area. One might have to feed animals if the area is truly blighted. The important point, thought, is that if you want to restore the site, you need to change the management; need to get disturbance, dung and urine in high concentrations and keep the animals moving so they can find sufficient forage. They then leave behind them a mulched, fertilized landscape ready to capture moisture (if it rains) and set seed. (Shannon Horst, co-founder Savory Institute)
  • Mar 6 2013: Stephen,
    there is confusion over many of these topics that are balled up in history. Mr Savory claimed that the world was over-grazed but understocked--e.g. the world should be heavier stocked-- with bunches of animals. The research in the report and many many papers suggest that light stocking is the answer. It is a function of biomass/forage produced and how much a cow consumes. If you use it all then there is nothing left to cover the ground. I am simply -- as the link argues-- that these decades of data that suggest light stocking rates are the most sustainable, regardless of their distribution, is correct.

    As for the adaptive management-- there is no question that adapting is critical- in fact adaptive management is an oxymoron. The issue-- one should adapt with stocking rate not rotating your cattle. Think about it-- 100 ac produce 2000 lbs of forage - you want to leave half of it- cattle stomp some- insects and wildlife eat some so generally the rule of thumb is take about 30% - that leaves you 60,000 of forage-- a cow eats 26 lbs a day so 9,490 per year-- woohoo you get 6.3 cows..... it doesnt matter if you rotate them / stake them / put them of hover crafts. Now, the adaptive management comes in-- if it doesnt rain you only get 3 or 4 cows-- if it does rain you get 8 cows.

    This is all the range scientists have been saying for years. Rotating does not grow more grass....
    • Mar 9 2013: Sam are you perhaps missing the point of Mr. Savory's talk? It wasnt about the most efficient means of rasing cattle but rather about reversing desertification. Your focus on grazing systems seems to overlook the point entirely.
      Perhaps it is simply the conversation thread that you disagree with.
    • Mar 9 2013: Please correct me if I am wrong dr. Fuhlendorf, since I am not working in your field, just curious.
      Quoting from Rangeland Ecol Manage 61:3–17 | January 2008 co-authored by you:

      When stocking rate was less for continuous than rotational grazing, 75% (3 of 4) of the experiments reported greater animal production per area for rotational grazing (Fig. 1B).

      This coincides exactly with what Allan Savory is claiming, is it not? So where is the disconnect, I am wondering?

      In particular since there was no difference in plant production as your Figure 1 shows (which is somewhat misleadingly described as: " When stocking rate was less for continuous than rotational grazing, 75% of the experiments (3 of 4) reported either no differences or greater plant production for continuous grazing"). According to your own hypothesis, one would have expected crop degradation due to higher stocking rate. But it did not happen.

      I was also wondering, how long did these experiments last? That tends to be all-important in ecology, e.g. effects of ocean pH change on corals. Might it be the case that practical management experience covers longer periods of time than the experiments cited? And what about the initial conditions for the experiments?
  • Mar 6 2013: Adam,
    No one has given any scientific evidence. I am a scientist so that is the evidence that I believe in. I am sorry if extremely confounded offended you-- I should have said - COMPLETELY confounded-- In other words from a scientific perspective---impossible to interpret.

    I have worked with many of the people discussed here and have only seen ethical problems from those that tend to profit from these ideas---- e.g. not the research scientist but instead some of those that are selling a product.
  • Mar 6 2013: Christina,
    Thanks. I know the Kerr WMA well. I would say this land is amazing because it is moderately stocked. This is one of the advantages of science where stocking rate and grazing system is controlled for. These studies show that it is all about stocking rate rather than system. The Kerr area is outstanding but as a study it is extremely confounded.
    • Mar 6 2013: Hi Sam -

      I think you've made your point. You are one of Briske's colleagues and you share a firm and apparently unshakeable point of view. Despite comments from people with years and decades of experience that differ from yours, you are not going to change your mind. We get that.

      It is clear that no matter how many times others present well-supported evidence or point out that you, Briske, Holochek, et al. misunderstand and misrepresent Savory's work (intentionally or not), it will make no difference to you. It is also clear that you know all the arguments from the Holistic Management camp, you've interpreted them to suit your purposes with a win-the-debate-no-matter-what approach, and you've decided to reject them wholesale. That is, of course, your right.

      However, I for one would welcome thoughtful critique of Holistic Management based on actual empirical evidence - that is, impartial observation of actual practice by experienced rangeland practitioners like Jim Howell and Allan Savory himself. But until you are willing to do that, I would have to say that so far your contributions are, to use your derisive terminology (apologies), "extremely confounded."

      Perhaps you would consider a modicum of restraint, if not objectivity.

  • Mar 6 2013: Thanks Margriet.
    I am not saying this hasnt been studied. It has extensively. It has just been found to not work.

    I am a researcher on this topic and I can tell you that it is one of the complete topics that have been researched. It is not only not supported by research but it is conclusively rejected.
    • Mar 6 2013: Donnie Harmel, who was manager and research director at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area in Texas for many years, set out in 1984 to prove that Allan was wrong. The Kerr is a complex 6,500 acre management unit where research on whitetail deer, Federally endangered Black-capped Vireos & Golden-cheeked Warblers, fire regimes and grazing were Donnie's passion. By the time I met him in 1991 Donnie had become an advocate for Holistic Management. He saw first hand the benefits of planned grazing to the land he managed.
      Among the benefits he documented was a dramatic decrease in soil erosion and increase in effective rainfall. In one small catchment area of less than 300 acres, a hurricane driven thunderstorm dumped 90 million gallons of water over a period of 5 hours. The runoff water was CLEAR and not one crossing fence was damaged. By 1990 browse, grass and forbs had reached a record high in the areas managed with grazing. And vireos and warblers demonstrated huge population increases because Donnie had worked out a way to use the cattle as bait for nest-predating cowbirds.
      Yes, there is a chasm between some of the older research and direct experience of Holistic Planned Grazing. Most of that research looks at HM grazing mechanically - as a recipe, and it is far from that linear.
      • Apr 4 2013: I've just looked at the managment page for the Kerr WMA§ion=management_program
        it does not specifically mention Savory or HM but there is a rotation system which involves burning, a short graze followed by 60 days rest. Quite a few other interventions seem to have been carried out. Burning isn't something I've seen mentioned by Savory.

        It seems to me this is typical of lots of management. There is no one formula which can be applied world wide. Each site needs its own management regime. This might be why the academic results are mixed. Its also why a UN resolution is a bad idea. Blindly putting lots of animals on sites would do more harm than good.
        • Apr 5 2013: Richard,
          Allan maintains that fire is ONE tool in the Holistic Management toolbox. I think he would say that in most cases it has been misused and so does not deliver the long term results possible with livestock. It also generates compounds much more damaging to the atmosphere.
          In the case of the Kerr, small controlled burns are followed relatively quickly by livestock, which is a somewhat refined application of both tools that tested out as delivering the complex habitat mosaic that the Kerr is managing for. (FYI, Donnie Harmel died about 10 years ago; and for political reasons Texas Parks and Wildlife is loathe to step into anything appearing to be an endorsement of HM.)
          I agree that each site needs its own management regime. But what we know is that, in seasonal moisture environments, livestock are a critical component of management that fulfill a role other tools do not. Timing of the livestock tool and it's use with other tools varies from site to site.
          Personally, I would not dismiss a UN resolution out of hand. It depends on what it says.
  • Mar 5 2013: I made a slight blunder in the proposition. The course which costs $7,700 is designed for people who already have a gone through a getting started course which comes out at $1750 and potentially then a follow on course which comes out at $3000.