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Environmental restoration: articles and links

Links to approaches that work with the ecosystem; success stories from around the world.

Index of articles and links

Most "cures" for damaged land make the problem worse -- as the world's advancing deserts tell us. By imitating how nature functions when healthy, holistic managers around the world are producing rapid recoveries of damaged land.

Allan Savory
dry riverbed
Continuous grazing in the surrounding area caused this river to dry up.

green riverbed
Same day, same area: managed grazing is restoring this river's health. Article by Allan Savory.

How it works

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

How can grazing heal land? Learn how grazers maintain grasslands in nature, and how people can harness the same forces to heal damaged land. A short introduction by Joy Livingwell, with photos.

Grazing as an ecological tool (articles) lists links to in-depth coverage of this still-controversial subject.

Landscape damage

Erosion: why it happens and what to do about it (slide show) by Joy Livingwell. Pictures from around the world tell the story of erosion's causes, costs, and cures. In 2 parts: why erosion happens (20 photos); protecting and growing soil (15 photos).

Desertification -- what it is and how to fix it (articles). Desertification currently affects about 1/4 of Earth's land area. Learn why most conventional "solutions" can't work.

Grazing and overgrazing (articles). What is overgrazing? Why do small numbers of livestock destroy land that used to support millions of wild grazers?

Environmental restoration success stories

Left: stream entering property. Right: same stream leaving property 1500 m (0.9 mile) downstream.
Graeme Hand
tall grass
Clear water flowing off property after just 25 months of Holistic Management.

Soil loss and soil surface management by Graeme Hand. Good soil surface management can stop topsoil loss at the source. The key is litter composting at the soil surface.

desert bush
October 1984. Invading Harpuis bush. No grass, hard capped white soils, carrying capacity: zero.
Norman Kroon
tall grass
January 1997. Same post after native grasses returned.

Restoring South Africa's desertified Karoo by Norman Neave, Sholto Kroon, and Roland Kroon. Learn the Karoo's surprising history, and visit two successful land restorations near Graaff-Reinet, South Africa.

Horses breaking up an old road for revegetation
Thomas J. Elpel
revegetated road
New growth colonizing the roadbed

Horse hooves stimulate desirable vegetation by Thomas J. Elpel. Methods of using horses on small acreages to revegetate disturbed soils, restore dormant pastures and stimulate green ones, trample weeds, and assist lawn care. On Wildflowers and Weeds website.

Frank & Vicky Dawley
bare stream banks
Riprap and re-contouring failed to stop erosion on this stream's bare banks
Joy Livingwell
thick trees
Banks revegetated by managed grazing withstand yearly flooding

Revegetating a stream in northern California, U.S.A. by Joy Livingwell. This formerly seasonal creek now flows till September, and never dries out completely, creating a haven for wildlife.

choked with tall weeds
Conventional weed control failed

Norman Neave
dense grass, no weeds
Across the fence, this dense sward out-competes weeds


Restoring a nonfunctioning waterway by Norman Neave. Clearing alien invader plants and restoring grassland in eastern South Africa using managed grazing.

bare ground
November 1992

Kachana Pastoral Co.
lush grass
November 1998


Using Nature's own forces to reclaim deteriorating land by Chris Henggeler. Feral cattle and donkeys severely damaged this former wetland in northwestern Australia. Now managers are using cattle as their main tool to heal it.

gullied dirt
Conventional techniques failed on this old gold mine site
Tony & Jerrie Tipton
tall grass
The restored land outperformed some nearby hayfields

Revegetating Mined-out Lands, Nevada, U.S.A. Creating a grassland by recreating the interdependence between animals that have evolved to graze and plants that have evolved to be grazed. On the EcoResults! website.

Allan Savory
severe erosion
August 1999
Kelly Pasztor
bank grassed over
July 2001

Ravine improvement at Mexico research station. A mixed-species "flerd" (flock + herd) trampled the edge and created good conditions for plant germination and growth. On the Center for Holistic Management's website.

1986: 11% snakeweed
Roger Bowe
1990: 1% snakeweed, 9 new perennial grass species

Reducing snakeweed in New Mexico, U.S.A. on the Holistic Management International website. Good management increased range health, tripled the stocking rate, and cut the cost of beef production in half. Summary chart (bottom of page, HMI website).  PDF article (1.4 MB) by Roger Bowe about this ranch in a Quivira Coalition newsletter. (Article title: "Economics vs. Ecology".)

bare stream banks
Date Creek grazed conventionally
Dan Dagget
lush tall growth
Same area, grazed during the dormant season and rested during the growing season

Restoring a Desert Oasis, Arizona, U.S.A. on the EcoResults! website.

Managed grazing helps river basin resist drought. by Allan Savory includes a 2003 photo comparison of range improvements on the Africa Centre for Holistic Management's land with severe desertification on the adjacent communal lands. Longer article with more photos on the Range Magazine website.

Healthiest Riparian Area in North America? New Mexico's U Bar ranch supports the the highest density of songbird territories in North America and hosts the largest known population of at least three threatened or endangered species. On EcoResults! website. Photos.

Improving a small acreage with three horses by Peter Donovan. In northern California, U.S.A., Dick and Diane Knox revegetated their bare ground, and now manage their grazing to promote oak reseeding. Photos.

Sagebrush reduction near Billings, Montana, U.S.A. on Photos.

Improving landscape health near Bruneau, Idaho, U.S.A. by Peter Donovan. How herder Joel Herrmann changed livestock management to grow more ground cover and improve the water cycle.

Revegetating soilless land (articles). Soil-building is a vital part of revegetating sites where topsoil has been lost or never existed in the first place.