Brown Revolution and Desertification (IPS)

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Brown Revolution Brings New Hope

By Busani Bafana

Picking spots for cattle to graze could reverse desertification and even do its bit to retard climate change, new experiments in Zimbabwe have shown. It’s what is coming to be called the Brown Revolution.

Planned grazing of livestock is helping restore formally degraded lands close to Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls world heritage site. It is a miracle that ecologist Allan Savory of the Savory Institute calls the brown revolution – and at the least it could reverse the declining fortunes of agriculture in Zimbabwe.

The U.S.-based Savory Institute and its partner organisation, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management (ACHM), have regenerated land, wildlife and water on land that was turning into a desert after livestock numbers increased by 400 percent on their 2,900-hectare ranch in the Dimbangombe area, 36 km from the town of Victoria Falls. The land healing miracle is thanks to a practice known as holistic management.

Holistic management, a result of more than 50 years of research and development spanning four continents, has increased land productivity and water availability and improved livelihoods of communities in Zimbabwe through planned livestock grazing.

“Livestock are the one of the best tools available to science to address desertification on a large scale,” Savory told IPS. “If you do not address desertification, you cannot address climate change.”


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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.