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Grazing as an ecological tool

A page of links to in-depth articles on the role of grazing and grazing management in maintaining and restoring grassland ecosystems.

Index of articles and links

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.

Kachana Pastoral Co.
November 1992: A few feral cattle and donkeys severely damaged this former wetland in northwestern Australia.
Kachana Pastoral Co.
November 1998: Managers are using cattle as their main tool to heal it.
Kachana Pastoral Co.
July 1999: The herd improving ecosystem function in the middle of the dry season. With plenty to eat, wildlife is returning. Article

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

Grazing and overgrazing (articles). The surprising truth about destocking and desertification.