Allan Savory

President, Savory Institute
Albuquerque, NM, United States

About Allan


Allan Savory was born in Rhodesia, southern Africa. He pursued an early career as a research biologist in the British Colonial Service of what was then Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia), and later as a farmer, game rancher, politician and international consultant, based in Southern Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe). In the 1960s, while working on the interrelated problems of increasing poverty and disappearing wildlife, he made a significant breakthrough in understanding what was causing the degradation and desertification of the world’s grassland ecosystems. He went on to work, as a resource management consultant, with numerous managers, eventually on four continents, to develop sustainable solutions to environmental degradation and its many symptoms including poverty and violence.

His early results in reversing land degradation in a manner that made, rather than cost, money were impressive. But, as he often states, his failures were equally impressive! Finally, in the mid 1980s the last of some key missing pieces fell into place. Since then thousands of land, livestock and wildlife managers have been able to demonstrate consistent results following the methodology he called Holistic Management.

Savory served as a Member of Parliament in the latter days of Zimbabwe’s civil war and leader of the opposition to the ruling party headed by Ian Smith. Exiled in 1979, as a result of his opposition, he emigrated to the United States where he co-founded the non-profit organization Center for Holistic Management with his wife, Jody Butterfield. In 1992 they formed a second non-profit (social welfare) organization near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management, donating a ranch that would serve as a learning site for people all over Africa. Savory and the five local Chiefs are permanent Trustees of the Africa Centre. Savory and his wife divide their time between Zimbabwe and New Mexico.
 In 2009 Savory and others with whom he had worked for many years formed the Savory Institute to expand the holistic framework into global consciousness to sustain life on Earth.

In 2003, Savory was awarded the Banksia International Award for the person doing the most for the environment on a global scale. And, along with the Africa Centre For Holistic Management, won the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.



TED Conferences

TED2014, TED2013

Areas of Expertise

Addressing complexity in natural resource management situations

An idea worth spreading

Deserts forming in the most vast regions of the world's land are contributing greatly to climate change that will continue even post fossil-fuels. Through ignorance and deep beliefs, not science, livestock are blamed and vilified - but are the only thing available to science with which to reverse desertification to save mankind. It is impossible using any imaginable technology, tree planting, resting land (conservation) or fire - the only tools available in mainstream scientific thinking. Through holistic planned grazing the full complexity is being addressed and livestock are now unarguably reversing desertification - but this hopeful message needs to spread globally & rapidly to avert ongoing tragedies as governments force cultural genocide on pastoral people form the U.S. to Israel, North Africa across to Pakistan and on to China in ignorance. All of humanity is being endangered unwittingly by good people basing policies on ancient beliefs that have assumed scientific validity

I'm passionate about

Leaving a better world than I entered for future generations and wildlife.

Talk to me about

Reversing desertification to address climate change or other aspects of this work addressing complexity not only on the land but in the formation of complex government policies etc.

People don't know I'm good at

Helping people/governments/NGOs manage & solve problems in complex situations -social, environmental and economic.

My TED story

Everything humans "make" using technology is an ever increasing success - we have reached the moon. Everything we "manage" is becoming increasingly chaotic and problematic - from global finance and economy to agriculture & desertification - all things managed involve the concept of "complexity" that the things we make does not. Through no great wisdom, but 50 years of perseverance I have, accidentally discovered how to address complexity - from family to governance - in a profoundly simply way. Time only allows me to tell the story in connection with desertification's role in climate change, poverty, social breakdown and violence as I will do.