I encourage you to watch this Ted talk, Allan Savory: How to green the desert and reverse climate change. It is only 20 minutes and is easy to follow with lots of compelling before and after pictures of how his group has helped restore grasslands across the world.
Here is my understanding of his key points:
- Land deteriorates into desert when it is bare and not covered with vegetation. The soil is then unable to retain water and rainfall either evaporates or washes away (with topsoil).
- When grazed incorrectly, livestock does increase the rate at which grassland turns to desert. So does modern farming…
- When livestock are grazed in a similar pattern to how they would graze in the wild, e.g. in large herds which move constantly to avoid predators, they actually restore the grassland. He explains why in the video, in short “manure + urine + trampled grass = fertilizer and compost”.
- If the majority of our grasslands adopted these livestock techniques we would be able to a) feed more people and b) capture enough carbon in the ground to bring down our carbon levels to pre-industrial era levels. This would help combat climate change.
It is an interesting perspective and is heartening to learn that using these techniques they have helped restore previously barren land, giving the indigenous people a way to sustain themselves without foreign aid.