CONNECTING EVERYTHING BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED
The foundation of the concept of Holistic Management is the perception of nature as a complex whole, the parts of which are, without exception and at whatever level, all interconnected and interdependent. In this way, we all form part of a living community with a mutual vital relationship between people, plants, animals and the land.
There are no individual stand-alone elements in nature; everything is intricately connected and if you remove or change the behaviour of any one of the key species it will have a wide-ranging effect on other parts of the ecosystem.
If, for example, we look at current mainstream farming practice, the focus is often on solving each problem encountered as a stand-alone issue. This may lead to unintended consequences whereby the solution has undesirable knock-on effects elsewhere, even though it may have resolved the initial problem. The holistic approach recognises the dangers of such unintended consequences and can help us to benefit fully from the free resources available to us to maximise profitability and long term abundance.
Regenerative farming is all about farming in partnership with natural systems – both giving to and taking from them. Indeed, one of the most frequent quotes used in Holistic and Regenerative land stewardship is from Don Campbell, a Canadian rancher: “If you want to make small changes, change how you do things. If you want to make major changes, change how you see things.”
Learning to see the living systems and cycles and what is freely available by working with nature, rather than by trying to control or coerce it, can transform the productivity and profitability of any farm.
In the broad sense, “holistic management” can refer to any practical recognition of the interdependence of land management with the wider enduring sustainability of nature. Examples range from some of long-standing evolved practices of indigenous peoples to the active decision-making processes of the Permaculture approach.
In a narrower sense, “Holistic Management” (usually capitalised to denote this narrower sense) refers to a decision-making process developed by Allan Savory and promoted by the Savory Institute. It provides a tool for dealing with the complexity of issues faced when attempting to deal holistically with systemic management and stewardship issues.
It is designed to ensure that all significant management decisions are simultaneously economically, socially and environmentally sound, both in the short and the long term. Savory developed the concept of holistic goal or context, framing the more immediate objectives and goals, and providing a way to assess or prioritise these by setting them against a much broader backdrop.
The process helps to avoid unintended consequences stemming from decisions and actions, enabling land, life and business to be seen from a different perspective, encouraging a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with natural systems.
The holistic context gives the overall view of just how we want our lives to be lived, together with the environment and the actions that will sustain that quality of living for future generations. Once this context has been agreed between the decision makers in the business, all actions can be focused on achieving the desired outcomes. The framework includes a feedback loop and a number of testing questions to determine whether a proposed action takes you closer to – or further from – your holistic context.
Holistic Financial Planning, Holistic Land Planning and Holistic Planned Grazing can be approached using easy, paper-based planning sheets. A big difference from conventional planning processes lies in the fact that decisions made earlier in the process, namely the aims and objectives, are prioritised and progress in the desired direction is checked and verified by means of feedback loops. The Holistic regenerative farming approach in UK is intended to bring about a rapid increase in profitability,, land health and quality of life for the people involved. Yet these planning frameworks come with a warning that they must be adopted in their entirety; as Allan Savory says “your management can no more be a little bit Holistic than you can be a little bit pregnant.”
Holistic Planned approaches have been successful because they are not prescriptive. They provide a decision-making process designed for managing the complexity of different landscapes, different climates, different growing seasons, different breeds of animals, different financial resources and social networks, etc. They are not based on an ideology or a theory. Indeed, Savory has stated explicitly that he has no “theory.” His approach is rooted firmly in his experiential evidence of how animals and plants interact, together with frequent monitoring and recording of this information on a chart for planning purposes.
More info on Holistic Planned Grazing
- Learn more about how cows can help build soil when grazed ‘holistically’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z75A_JMBx4
- Courses and resources – https://savory.shop/collections/online-courses
- Contact – https://savory.global/hubs/3lm/