Resistance to Change
Even trained scientists can never be objective about new information. When Alan Savory and Stan Parsons first set up shop on this continent (at San Angelo, Texas during the 1970s), they did business under the banner of the “Savory Grazing Method (SGM).”
They immediately ran into stiff and determined resistance to acceptance of their “method” amongst both conventional range managers and traditional ranchers alike. Alan once said that it would take 50 years to fully effect a basic paradigm change in the field of range management. I disagree. It will take at least 100, if not more. Although tremendous progress has been made, that resistance lingers today and for the same reason it always did—a lack of understanding.
For the next few days, I hope to improve on that understanding some.
The Four Key Insights
In large part, by watching how wild ungulates use the land in Africa, Alan Savory, over a period of several years, developed four key insights that contradicted long-held beliefs about what causes environmental deterioration. Taken together, these four insights slaughtered a multitude of sacred cows so resistance is the perfectly predictable reaction.
Savory’s four key insights are:
1) The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts: Contrary to the long held notion that the world is like a machine with individual, separate parts that can be isolated for study or management, the world is made up of patterns that function as wholes. These patterns cannot be deciphered or described by studying any single part in isolation.
2) A New Way of Viewing Environments: Environments can be classified on a continuum based on how moisture is distributed throughout the year and how quickly dead vegetation breaks down. On opposite ends of this continuum are two broad categories of environments (brittle and non-brittle) that will respond differently to the same treatments.
3) The Role of Predator-Prey Relationships: Much of the deterioration was initiated by the severing of the essential relationship between herding animals and their pack-hunting predators.
4) The Role of Time: Damage from overgrazing and trampling has little relationship to animal numbers. Instead, the important factor is the time that plants and soils are exposed to the animals.
Over the next four days, I will cover each of these four insights in greater detail.
Copyright © 2013 by Land & Livestock International, Inc. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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