2009 Feasta Lecture
by Allan Savory
Date: 2:30, Saturday November 7th, 2009
View a 10-minute extract from Allan Savory's talk which summarizes his ideas about using livestock to improve land:
View the full lecture (60 mins):
In Ireland, about 13% of the warming effect of the annual release of greenhouse gases comes from the methane produced by the national livestock herd. The government thinks it has to choose between cutting livestock numbers and cutting cars.
Allan Savory argued that while livestock may be part of the problem, they can also be an important part of the solution. He has demonstrated time and again in Africa, Australia and North and South America that, properly managed, they are essential to land restoration. With the right techniques, plant growth is lusher, the water table is higher, wildlife thrives, soil carbon increases and, surprisingly, perhaps four times as many cattle can be kept.
Savory, the 2003 winner of the Australian Banksia Environmental Foundation prize, is a Zimbabwean biologist and farmer. He was a member of the Rhodesian Parliament and had to go into exile after opposing the policies of Ian Smith. He had previously declared that if he had been born a black Rhodesian he would have been a guerrilla fighter.
This river in Zimbabwe used to flow
year-round. Then overgrazing by wandering
livestock bared much of the soil in the
surrounding area. Today the river flows only as
flash floods following heavy rains. Biodiversity
loss is severe, livestock are starving, and most
wildlife has disappeared.
This shot of a nearby river was taken
on the same day. It used to have similar
problems but now it always has water and
flows most of the year. Drought is rare,
biodiversity is increasing, and wildlife has
reappeared in large numbers.