By Ashley Thorfinnson
Desertification is occurring on 25% of the land area of Earth, degrading 73% of the world's rangelands and causing widespread poverty. By reversing desertification, we could create innumerable positive consequences: mitigating climate change, droughts and floods, and reducing poverty, social breakdown, violence and genocide. Yet most attempts to date have not only been ineffective, but have been band-aid solutions that do not address its real "root" causes. Enter Semi-Finalist Allan Savory and his surprising trimtab approach to reversing desertification that he calls "holistic rangeland management." Nearly the exact opposite of prevailing theories that blame desertification on overgrazing, Savory's solution centers on dramatically increased livestock numbers to reverse desertification. The tremendous success of Savory's counter-intuitive solution is evidenced through his work with Operation Hope at the Africa Center for Holistic Management (ACHM) in Zimbabwe. For hundreds of years the 6,500 acres of the ACHM were barren, dry fields until 1992 when Savory increased the livestock by 400% and managed them through holistic, planned grazing. Over time, the barren fields were transformed into green grass and open water, full of water lilies and fish.