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HDMA - Holistic Decision Making Association

Jim Howell
dense cattle herd
Herd effect: 300 dry cows on 1/4 acre (1/10 ha) for 30 minutes provide very high animal impact, imitating the vast game herds that once roamed Zimbabwe.

herd effect - The impact of a excited or concentrated herd of large animals on soil and vegetation. Trampling and hoof action knock down standing vegetation and grind it into soil, along with manure and plant seeds. Herd effect is not stock density -- a large number of animals spread out and walking calmly will not produce herd effect (or much animal impact), whereas a small group of excited animals will. However, some psychological effect of a large, dense herd makes it produce more herd effect than a small herd at the same density. Applied too long or to frequently, herd effect tends to pulverize most soils and cause excessive compaction.

According to Allan Savory, the amount of herd effect produced by even large herds of domestic stock at high concentration is small compared to the action of wild herds chased by predators -- minutes per day versus hours per day. However, some holistic managers (especially in southern Africa) are producing good effects on their brittle, high-production land by using very large herds at very high densities with very frequent moves -- a herd of 2-3,000 cattle moved every hour, for instance.

Related terms: animal impact

Related pages: "Animal impact", "Landscape brittleness and productivity"

holism - The notion that the universe and especially living nature is most usefully seen in terms of interacting wholes that are more than the mere sum of what makes them up. Holism also views these "parts" as smaller wholes within wholes. A molecule is made of whole atoms, a cell of whole molecules, an organ of whole cells, a body of whole organs. Each has emergent properties not predictable from the smaller wholes that comprise it. No degree of knowledge about simple chemical elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, and iron would allow us to predict oceans, snowflakes, or water skiers.

To work long-term, management must be holistic. Action within the whole under management affect both the smaller wholes within it, and the larger wholes of which it is part. Over time, small actions can, and often do, add up to enormous cumulative effects -- witness the hole in Earth's ozone layer, for example.

Related terms: Holistic Management

Related pages: "Paradigms and decision-making frameworks"

holistic decision-making - The type of decision-making people do using Holistic Management. Making decisions that are simultaneously socially, financially, and ecologically sound, both short- and long-term.

Holistic Decision Making Association - (HDMA) A Holistic Management association for Australia and New Zealand.

Related pages: HDMA website

Holistic Grazing Planning - Also called planned grazing. Planning livestock grazing to cater simultaneously to many variables: animal performance and breeding cycle, wildlife needs, weather, plant growth rates, dormant periods, droughts, etc. It allows managers to use livestock to create the landscape described in their holistic goal. Compare rotational grazing.

holistic goal - (Also holisticgoal.) In Holistic Management, a long-term, overall blueprint for what you want to create. It has three parts:

  • Quality of life. What is important to you? What do you value? How do you want to live?
  • Production (also called forms of production or prerequisites). What must you produce to create and maintain the quality of life you want? Building good relationships with your family and community might require effective communication. Security might require a reliable income.
  • Resource base (also called future resource base). What will sustain production and your quality of life far into the future, and for future generations? Include your community, landscape, and resources (education, money, good reputation).

A holistic goal only contains what people want, never how to get it.

Related terms: Holistic Management

Related pages: "Setting good goals"

Holistic Management - A process and set of guidelines for making decisions that are simultaneously financially, socially, and ecologically sound, both short- and long-term, and which work to improve people's quality of life. Developed by Allan Savory.

Holistic Management's decision-making process includes a three-part holistic goal which is used to test proposed actions in advance. Monitoring and course-correction are ongoing. It includes more tools than conventional management. It also incorporates every method we already use to make decisions.
Allan Savory
Holistic Management was developed to heal damaged landscapes like this dried-up river in Zimbabwe.

Allan Savory
This nearby river used to look like the one above. By healing the land, Holistic Management brought thousands of game animals back to the area. Article.

Holistic Management started as a way to restore and maintain damaged ecosystems. Long-term land management always involves:

  • Long-term trends: practices that have a smalls effect this year may have a huge cumulative effect over many years
  • Decisions with lasting consequences: unlike a factory, we can't simply tear down a damaged ecosystem and build a healthy one
  • Complex natural systems and forces that behave in unexpected ways
  • People's values and motivations: what people don't value, they won't be motivated to preserve or maintain over decades or centuries

Early experiments quickly revealed that long-term success in land management depends on people's values and decision-making process far more than it does on specific management techniques or decisions. If you make "good" decisions using a process that doesn't give you adequate feedback, you won't notice or respond appropriately when the situation changes and good management requires changing what you do.

Experience also showed that making good decisions requires managing for the benefit of the whole system, not just its parts. When we manage for the benefit of parts (lowering our weight, increasing livestock productivity, or preserving an endangered species), we often make decisions that have negative effects on the larger whole that the part depends on (our overall health, rangeland health and/or ranch profitability, having an ecosystem that provides everything the endangered species needs). Managing from the perspective of the larger whole helps us avoid this type of problem.

The Holistic Management process thus includes:

  • A "whole under management" — what you're managing. It includes key stakeholders, the people actually making decisions, and the resources they have available.
  • A values-based "holistic goal" — the future situation you're managing for. (Without a goal, you can't tell whether or not you're making progress.)
  • Planning processes that help you figure out how to achieve your goal, in ways that minimize the likelihood that today's "beneficial" decision will cause long-term problems.
  • Ongoing monitoring and course correction that allows you to tell as early as possible whether what you do is taking your closer or further from your goal, and change what doesn't work as early in the process as possible.
  • A set of management practices and tools to help you manage more effectively, including ways to test proposed actions to determine whether they're likely to succeed or fail, better models of how ecosystems work and respond to management and more.

Holistic Management has proved extremely effective at healing even severely damaged land, and keeping healthy land from degrading. It is now used for managing groups and companies, and for resolving conflicts, as well as for land management.

Related terms: holism, holistic goal

Related pages: "Setting good goals", "Holistic Management testing questions", "90-page Holistic Management how-to manual", "basic ecosystem processes", "environmental restoration successes"

Holistic Resource Management - Holistic Management

HRM - Holistic Resource Management, the old name for Holistic Management.

humus - Partially or wholly decomposed organic matter. Humus holds nutrients and gives rich topsoils their dark color.

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Updated 1 November 2005