Hello Allan Savory, I am so glad you will visit here.
My first question is whether you can out-run the mono-culturists and how your work counters their thrusts into African land. Are there ways we can help on the net and such?
I am so distressed we in the U.S. are having to deal with terrible mono-culture threats, after already dealing with it with Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver working to un-do damage from mono-culture cotton, and after our dust bowl, where we should have learned more lasting lessons.
If there is time, I have a second question: how do you stop big dams such as the ones wreaking havoc in the Central and South Americas?
Mary all of your questions involve policies formed by higher authorities or governments above farmers and people on the land. I am going to answer you at some length because this I believe will help all of us in the next three days of discussions.
Such policies are formed by well-meaning people to try to address problems – all policies are formed to address problems through one or more objectives. Now policies (and development projects) need to meet 3 needs (1) be achievable (2) not address symptoms & (3) not lead to unintended consequences.
Always the context for the various objectives of policy is “the problem being addressed”. All objectives need a context. If they have no context or inadequate context they amount to “loose cannons on the deck” - likely to lead to damaging but unintended consequences. The real world of human societies, cultures, economies, governance, religions, weather and environmental complexity is holistic – meaning there are no connections, parts or any of our mechanistic constructs, but functioning in wholes and patterns, feedback loops and more in such self-renewing complexity.
In this real world of complexity any objective with the “problem” as the context has an inadequate or unrealistic context. Because of this it is unlikely to be achievable (other than short term), is almost always addressing a symptom and highly likely to lead to unplanned and unintended damaging consequences.
So we see humanity experiencing ever growing tsunamis or catastrophies of our own making associated with almost everything we “manage” which involves such complexity. If you look at everything we “make” it involves technology and expertise but roads, bridges, dams, computers, planes, etc although complicated are never complex – they are designed by humans, do what they are supposed to do are not self-renewing, do not work with parts missing. Generally we are very successful with these as long as we measure success as having achieved the objective, and we ignore longer term consequences on environment and society. The holistic framework would help us reduce the damaging consequences of things we make using technology, but for the moment let me stick to the things we manage including policies that we do not make, but which constitute management dealing with complexity almost beyond human comprehension.
In the cases you mention the problems concerning you fit this pattern of fallouts from faulty policies – and your dismay, response and that of others seeing the damage is one of the unplanned consequences, along with all the environmental and social damage being done.
Almost all of this damage brought about by faulty policies (& development projects) in every country (there is no exception) is avoidable when we use the holistic framework in formation of such polices and projects. This is because we work to a “holistic context” and use a set of 10 filters to ensure the objectives and means to attain such objectives are in that holistic context. When this is done we commonly find almost all of the knowledge required to develop sound policies is available and what is causing the global damage we are witnessing (and have for thousands of years) is the way we have traditionally in all cultures made conscious decisions to achieve objectives. Most people, even though we often do not think so when we experience the damaging results, are trying to do the right thing and it is our way of making all conscious decisions that leads to environmental damage, poverty, violence, war and more.
You ask how we stop such policies. I am afraid having battled for fifty years on many fronts I know now from both experience, and from studying the research on how truly new paradigm-changing scientific insights get into democratic societies, that it only happens when public opinion forces institutional change in our many organizations. Twenty minutes of TED talk about reversing desertification now having gone to about 2 million viewers on the various sites has done more than fifty years of dealing with universities, farming and ranching organizations, governments or international agencies. Thousands of individuals in institutions have worked with us developing the holistic management framework for decision making but they are as powerless as you and me to bring about change within their institutions. Now that public opinion is mounting institutions will inevitably begin to change. I stress all that we know about such change indicates no amount of logic, data, facts, evidence changes institutions – only public opinion brings about institutional change. Thanks to social networking today this is beginning to happen in several fields where “authorities” can no longer control information. So all that you can do personally is to do your best working with thinking concerned people, as you are, and make sure you do all you can to spread public demand for change from today’s almost universal faulty agricultural policies.
Andrew if you read my response to the last question by Mary you will see that all such decisions - toward the objective of planting trees in your case require a context and you will have one - commonly "need" "desire" or "addressing a problem" are the most universal but these are not adequate when dealing with social, environmental and economic complexity. So not knowing the holistic context in the whole situation you are managing I have no idea. Having said that I can generalize - in general monocultures are as permaculturalists know defying nature and likely to lead to problems. I often say we were led into monocultures largely by economists thinking they were more manageable using technology, etc. but they are I believe ecologically unmanageable. Hope this helps.
sorry ,im in northern tablelands nsw i run sheep /cattle over 800 ac i use rotational grazing
Im not scared to say I LIKE FODDER TREES/SHRUBS !
Ive noticed the critters and the grass enjoy the shade!
And the high protien pods beans and acorns!
Mary , I asked David Suzuki the same question you asked Allen .His reply was::::'We have to!!!"
we have to forest our farms and farm our forests
A day job? In an office? My worst nightmare! Comfort me tiny ad!