Holistic Management

Tallgrass Network leader Julie Mettenburg with a leader of the Sizinda community, Zimbabwe.

Tallgrass Network leader Julie Mettenburg with a leader of the Sizinda community, Zimbabwe.

There is no single "right way" to engage with regenerative agriculture, but at its basis must lie a respect for natural and human ecology, and a desire to continually learn. Therefore, we utilize the organizing framework of Holistic Management, an extremely flexible paradigm that empowers you to choose freely from among the many tools and tactics around you, plug them into a plan of your own life design, closely monitor and control results, apply scientific rigor in feedback loops, continually grow your wealth, and reliably improve your future resource base.

Holistic Management is a decision-making framework that begins with defining the quality of life that you desire, progressing through a series of planning and monitoring processes for achieving your goals, and ensuring that you will have the resource base in the future to continually support you and many generations to come. It provides a toolbox of insights and strategies to help you choose from among the many options available to you, as you seek to manage the complexity inherent in living, biological systems, including human systems.

Around the globe, Holistic Management is being used by farmers and ranchers, pastoralists and land stewards, communities, conservationists and families. It is even now being applied in public policy, municipal, organizational, oceanic settings and more. Contrary to some assumptions, although it originated to manage some of the most pressing problems of the grasslands and is often associated with Holistic Planned Grazing, this paradigm can provide a powerful framework for managing any system of complexity. Many who learn it agree that in fact, its most powerful aspect lies in its approach to financial planning for management of complex situations.

Holistic Management helps us achieve economic vitality, social well-being, and environmental regeneration. It provides the tools needed to manage any resource base for long-term vitality, for today and many generations to come. We are please to join practitioners worldwide in sharing its simplicity and reliability in delivering results and helping us create lives of enduring returns.

Allan Savory

Allan 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 1960's, 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 1980’s 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 Jody divide their time between their home in Zimbabwe and their house in New Mexico. In 2009, Allan co-founded the Savory Institute with the goal of fostering truly international cooperation in regeneration of the world’s grasslands.

The Promise of Holistic Management

In 2003, Savory was awarded the Banksia International Award for the person or organization doing the most for the environment on a global scale. The Africa Centre for Holistic Management was announced the winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Award for the organization working to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Allan is the author of The Grazing Revolution: A Radical Plan to Save the Earth and Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making. He has spoken around the world at hundreds of events, and has become an icon to farmers, ranchers, economists, researchers, managers and more. In 2013 Allan presented at TED in Long Beach on How to Fight Desertification and Reverse Climate Change. It is one of the top 100 TED talks of all time, with over 3 million views on TED’s site alone.

As of 2015, the Savory Institute remains one of 11 finalists for the Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million prize for innovation in sustainable and scalable ways to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

Also in 2015, Allan and Holistic Management were featured prominently on PBS Earth – A New Wild, Episode 2: Plains