This project demonstrates how to reverse desertification of the world’s savannas and grasslands, thereby contributing enormously to mitigating climate change, biomass burning, drought, flood, drying of rivers and underground waters, disappearing wildlife, massive poverty, social breakdown, violence and genocide.
Jury Statement: Webpage, PDF download
Entry Application: PDF
Website: Africa Center for Holistic Management
TED Talk: Allan Savory: How Wildlife Can Resuscitate Dying Land
Featured Video: Lecture at Trinity College,Dublin (1hr)
BFI BLOG ENTRY
Critical Need Being Addressed
Viewed holistically biodiversity loss/desertification/climate change are one issue not three. Without reversing desertification, climate change cannot be adequately addressed. This project has demonstrated that livestock can reverse desertification, even during droughts, over the largest areas of the Earth’s land – the grasslands and savannas.
Description of Initiative
Our work established a previously unsuspected cause of desertification – that humans of all ages and cultures make decisions using the same core decision framework. Flaws in this universal framework made world-wide desertification inevitable. Modifications, explained in "Holistic Management" A New Framework for Decision Making" Savory & Butterfield Second Edition 1999, Island Press, make reversing desertification possible.
This work, begun in the early 60s gave erratic results. Since 1984 when the decision-making piece of the puzzle fell into place, as long as the process is followed results in restored grasslands have been consistent and can be guaranteed.
In this particular project ACHM has demonstrated on 6500 acres of grasslands in Zimbabwe the process of reversing desertification. Livestock have increased 400% using holistic planned grazing and we now enjoy open water, water lilies and fish a kilometer above where water has been known before in the dry season. The livestock are integrated with Africa’s big game avoiding competition and wildlife are on the increase. Currently, we can barely keep pace with grass growth even in dry years. This is greatly influencing scientists, NGO’s and pastoralists from all over Africa.
Allan Savory is a former wildlife biologist, farmer, and politician and a true pioneer in a field that he virtually created himself - the field of holistic rangeland management. He co-founded the U.S.-based Center for Holistic Management in 1984 and currently operates under the Savory Institute: www.savoryinstitute.com Savory's approach to reversing desertification is common sense but very counterintuitive and accordingly has been rejected over the years in many scientific, academic and policy circles because it challenges prevailing wisdom. However, a growing body of practitioners around the world, who have been influenced by his lectures, workshops, and published works, are apparently applying his innovative management principles with great success. The Africa Center for Holistic Management (ACHM), a 6500 acre rangeland learning center which he created in 1992, is governed by 9 trustees including Savory, his wife and 5 African chiefs. The work of the Center is a living testament to his breakthrough methods for reversing desertification and its insidious impact on livelihoods, biodiversity and climate change. He has transformed large swaths of parched and degraded areas of the ranch into lush pastures replete with ponds and flowing streams even during periods of drought. Surprisingly, this was accomplished through a dramatic increase in the number of herd animals on the land. The Center's success is garnering significantly more attention than ever before. Savory's seminal work on the subject is called Holistic Management - A New Framework for Decision Making. It was originally published in 1988 with a revised edition (600 pages) released in 1999. It has been widely praised by many including Paul Hawken, Amory and Hunter Lovins , and Hazel Henderson. and in a 90 page handbook at http://www.managingwholes.com/village/vmen.pdf
Updates Since Winning the 2010 Challenge
Seth Itzkan spent six weeks visiting the center during the fall of 2011 and plans to return in 2013. In his visit, he witnessed housing units being built for the herders that are built from locally sourced materials. The development is designed to work in consort with the local ecology, including the elephants, using concentric circles of houses surrounded by bathroom and shower facilities with a central garden. Allan Savory discusses the process in this video that includes their very own Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award Ceremony in Zimbabwe.
In addressing a 2012 session of the IUCN World Conservation Congress on the urgent need of bringing agriculture and conservation back together. "There is much to learn if we let nature be our guide", says Charles, Prince of Wales, as he endorses the wonderful work of Allan Savory and The Africa Centre for Holistic Management. Watch a video of his address on youtube.
Allan Savory, President and Co-Founder of The Savory Institute
and the Africa Centre For Holistic Management
Allan Savory was born in Rhodesia, southern Africa. He pursued an early career as a research biologist and Game Ranger 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.
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 Holistic Management International 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 2003, Savory was awarded the Banksia International Award for the person or organization doing the most for the environment on a global scale. His current work in Africa is receiving much praise and recognition and has just moved the Africa Centre For Holistic Management into the finalist round for the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Award.
(ACHM) enhances food and water security and human livelihoods through training that utilizes livestock to restore degraded watersheds and croplands to health. We are headquartered at Dimbangombe Ranch, which serves as a learning site for those assisting communal and emerging commercial farmers.
For more information go to: http://achmonline.squarespace.com/
The Team at the Africa Centre For Holistic Management
Chairman Allan Savory
Chiefs and Trustees:
Director Huggins Matanga
Pof. Ntombizakhe Mpofu
Zephania Njee (Ndawene) and his herders
Precious Dube Phiri, Trustee
Precious is very familiar with the challenges people in rural Zimbabwe communities face since she is one of them. She grew up in one of the pilot communities that ACHM has been working with (Ndajilla/Masakili). She was orphaned at age 4 when she and her infant sister went to live with their grandmother. Her grandmother died when she was 18 and Precious became the head of household for 4 children.
A strong student academically, she applied for one of Zimbabwe’s prestigious presidential scholarships and won a place at Fort Hare University in South Africa. She graduated with a BSc in 2005, just short of completing an Honors in Geography/Geographic Information Systems. She is currently ACHM’s Research and Data Manager.
Precious draws from her deep understanding of having grown up in a community where water sources were drying up and witnessing the detrimental impact it had on her community adn family, to contribute to the ongoing success of the centre.
Zakhe Mpofu, Trustee
Ntombizakhe Mpofu “Zakhe” grew up in rural Zimbabwe. Though her family remained intact she was shipped off to a “better” school at a young age. During Zimbabwe’s civil war she won a scholarship with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where she completed her studies in animal genetics, and then went on to University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada to complete her Ph.D. Upon returning to Zimbabwe a decade ago she went back to school to complete an MBA to better prepare for the organizational development work she did at Lupane State University, in setting up an Animal Science facility.
Zahke is currently the Special Adviser of Research & Outreach at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management.