Grazing as an ecological tool

A considerable body of experience, monitoring, and research demonstrates that properly managed and timed grazing is a key component of the "whole" in grassland environments. However, because of the damage inflicted on the world's grasslands by little or no grazing management, many people and organizations oppose livestock grazing in any form.

 
bare ground
November 1992. Feral livestock severely damaged this former wetland.
Kachana Pastoral Co.
lush grass
November 1998. Well-managed cattle are healing it. Article
 



How can grazing heal land? A quick introduction to how and why it works, with photos.

New! Animal impact: how trampling benefits grassland ecosystems by Joy Livingwell. Grasslands are adapted to grazing and trampling. Without it, they suffer environmental damage. Photos.

Grasslands and grazers coevolved about 65 million years ago, according to the fossil record. For a summary, see The Role of Grazing Animals on the Savory Center's website. Includes bibliography.

Allan Savory's life work is understanding the causes of biodiversity loss worldwide, and developing effective remedies. In Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making (Island Press 1999), he describes four key insights. The first is that management must be holistic, dealing with wholes rather than parts. See also our paradigms section.

What research into ancient soils shows about grasslands and Earth's carbon balance.

Biodiversity--Where's the Beef? explains the role of grazing animals, and how market pressures have moved the animals from pastures into feedlots.

Grazing management for healthy soils—an excellent article by an Australian botanist, with bibliography.

To understand ecosystem functioning in wholes rather than as a linear or input-output system, see our ecosystem articles.

Examples of healing damaged land with livestock in our environmental restoration section.