How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change | Allan Savory

Published 2013-03-04
NOTE: Statements in this talk have been challenged by other scientists working in this field. Read more here:…

"Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert," begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

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All Comments (21)
  • Light Bulb
    terraforming deserts would be 1000x easier than terraforming mars
  • I try to watch this at least twice a year. I also share this at least 20 - 30 times a year in my health food and organic produce business . It’s almost always received positively!
  • Malignus Rex
    The most amazing thing I saw in this video were humans who weren't waiting for politicians and governments to come save them. They came together as communities, got up off of their collective backsides, rolled up their sleeves and made this happen. Sitting back on our phones complaining that someone else should be correcting our situation doesn't seem to be working out very well for us. I wonder what would have to happen between now and a future where we have turned the tide and saved ourselves. I believe this video holds some answers in more ways than one. There is no one in a cape on their way to save the day. The work will never get itself done. There is only you. No matter your differences, be good to one another and watch each other's backs because no one else will.
  • RandallFencer
    As a fence builder of course I'm all for intensive rotational grazing. The truth is I got into this business because of rotational grazing and HRM, I've been a student of both since I was young. Naysayers who claim it ruined their land missed one or more key points. Stock density (the number of animals on a given area of land while it is being grazed) must be quite high, grazing duration must be quite short, and rest before re-grazing must be long enough to allow the grasses to grow to maturity or very near before being eaten again, this perhaps the most critical because re grazing too soon depletes root reserves and prevents seed production. All three of these parameters vary greatly depending on rainfall and the soil condition when you start, all three will change as you go along. Don't expect big government or big business to get behind this, there is no power or money in it for them, it has to come from the people, grass roots, no pun intended. We need actual leaders, not politicians.
  • Lady Aurelia
    Here on the high plains ( Dakotas, Wyoming, Nebraska) we have had ranchers who have done exactly this for quite a while now, by mimicking the habits of bison. It has brought back trees and brush and a more varied, lusher landscape. I am so happy that this old technique works in other places. ✨🍃✨
  • Steven Start
    The great herds were moved to fresh pastures by the predators. Rotational grazing using fences and smaller paddocks is mimicking this process. I will always remember an ag adviser telling me that if all I changed was moving to a rotational grazing method I would grow 30% more feed. He was right. In Australia we have had a trend of not grazing our crop stubbles over summer, but I have observed that if I heavily graze those paddocks over summer the following winter crop is better and also not needing near as much urea fertiliser.
  • Rajesh Yadav
    Sir, I am an Indian living in Delhi with upbrining in an Indian small town. I have seen farmers using these techniques in their fields. In my country and basically in Delhi, when every Winter the farmers of nearby States burn their crops to clear their fields for next crop, I wonder how and why they have forgotten the lost art of conserving the soil. It is a proven fact that unless the soil has enough of humous, it will not absorb water and it takes time to develop humous and animal excreta helps in increasing the nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, calcioum etc in soil. I wish my fellow citizens, even if not paying heed to the knowledge of our great grandfathers at least listen to your TED video and stop burning crops in their fields.

  • Don Don
    I've watched this talk a few times. It makes me feel like there's hope,I love all the wonderful work that the good honest and decent people are doing to save us from ourselves.
  • Robert Joseph
    I’m just a retired firefighter and I had tears. I worry for my grandkids. This gives me hope. God bless.
    I am a kenyan and i greatly appreciate the work you have been doing to slow down or stop desertification. Your Ted talk is an eye opener to all who will have a chance to access it in youtube. You have changed the widely held perception that livestock is the cause of land degradation. The concept of controlled grazing using large herds which trample on land leading to carbon sequestration should be embraced by all governments and other stake holders. My question is, how do you pass this message to governments and community leadership here in Africa and other regions that are facing this scaring scenario of desertification . In kenya we have pastrolists who can be trained to implement this controlled grazing in the regions they roam with their animals. I believe that once our governments have acquired this knowledge, they can formulate policies regarding controlled grazing to combat climate change.
  • Marjorie Johnson
    Been pushing this entire talk for 55 years. Grew up on a farm with a father that thought soil was the lifeblood of the farm (250 acres and 18 cows - what dad thought as a proper number) . Read about how the Sahara being the grain fields of Rome . And watched the deserts grow in maps etc in books and magazines All before 1960. We all need to be talking about this.
  • Robert Ling
    Thank you Allan for sharing your information.
  • Ryan Aegis
    This reminds me of a documentary about reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone NP, and how it has dramatically helped the vegetation, even resulting changes to erosion and river paths. A cattle herder outside of Yellowstone had the idea that the herd needs to be driven to preserve his land, so he drives his cows, like a predator would, around his land everyday, and it has made his land extremely fertile. He suggested what you do, that we need more animals, not less, including predators on the land to sustain it.
  • Mark Main
    About 10 years have passed since this video, any updates on successes/failings/surprises while trying to expand this work? I'm curious what factually worked, where approach needed to be modified/improved upon, and perhaps any failing/learnings. Any good links regarding this topic?
  • Eleanor Sopwith
    Allan Savory is an inspiration. Sheep were grazed on grass at our outdoor visitor centre. The grass was very tired and scrappy but in just a few weeks, the few sheep transformed it into healthy grass giving a new lease of life. Nothing can care for the soil so well as rotating livestock on it.
  • Lee Hansen
    When I was 15 years old, in the 50's my uncle farmed this way!
    Dairy cattle, manure from the cattle droppings in the fields, manure from the barn spread onto the fields, hag and chicken manure spread onto the fields, raised and ground his own feed for the livestock and used mechanical cultivators to weed his crops.
    Then the chemical. Companies came in and every thing was sprayed by tractor and plans and only corn was raised with no crop rotation or fallow fields.
    Balanced agriculture needs livestock, diversified crops and fallow fields and trees.
  • Yorick Jenkins
    Fascinating and the more general lesson is not to be caught up in dogma, to be always open to new facts and realisations and to be prepared to admit that one was wrong. This guy is doing work infinitely more valuable than a whole bunch of politicians
  • Sergio Jimenez
    Gracias por la información, anteriormente creía que el pastoreo era uno de los agente mas importantes de la desertificación, pero ahora me doy cuenta que teniendo un control de manejo del pastoreo en ciertas superficies, esté se convierte en una excelente solución a la desertificación.