Reversing the tragedy of the commons

Featured entry Savory Institute, International

Savory Institute is facilitating large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands

Grasslands cover one-third of the earth’s land surface, yet 70% of these ecosystems have been degraded. Livestock, sharing these grasslands with wildlife, are often the culprits behind this deterioration. But they can also be a part of the solution. The Savory Institute, founded in Zimbabwe, is facilitating large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands through a method that they call Holistic Management. The approach includes planned rotational grazing that ’mimics nature’ with the aim of sequestering carbon and water in soils, which increases pasture productivity. Livestock are combined into large herds to harness the power of their hooves to break up hard ground so that air and water can penetrate, and to trample down old grass so the soil is covered and less prone to the drying effects of sun and wind. Their dung and urine help enrich the hoof-prepared soil and their grazing (which is timed to prevent overgrazing) keeps perennial grasses healthy and growing over a longer period. This minimizes the need to burn and expose soil. This multifaceted approach addresses desertification, climate change, and food and water insecurity. To help spread Holistic Management around the world, the Institute equips land managers with innovative tools and curricula and conducts research on the ecological, social, and financial outcomes of the approach. Today, the network also applies globally a tool called Ecological Outcome Verification, which is an empirical and scalable soil and landscape assessment methodology that tracks outcomes in soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. The Savory Network strategy seeks to influence the management of 1 billion hectares by 2025 through the establishment of 100 Hubs.