Where goats Come From

General discussions of forests and trees that do not focus on a specific species or specific location.

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Re: Where goats Come From

Post by Joe » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:34 pm

so I wonder just how much grazing is done well? It's like forestry- there are great theories on how to do good forestry, but most of what passes for forestry sucks - IMHO.

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Re: Where goats Come From

Post by Rand » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:52 pm

Joe wrote:so I wonder just how much grazing is done well? It's like forestry- there are great theories on how to do good forestry, but most of what passes for forestry sucks - IMHO.
Next to nothing seems to be the unspoken accusation. In fact they assert that all the great desert areas of the world were created by humans. Perhaps a bit hyperbolic, but they show examples of desert scrub areas in Western US, South Africa, and Australia that the original settlers report as being full of wildlife and grass.

Here's a site with more complete information if you 've got some hours to burn:

http://managingwholes.com/--environment ... ration.htm

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Re: Where goats Come From

Post by edfrank » Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:09 pm

David Brin commented on the Savoy video (He is by training an astrophysicist and by advocation a science fiction writer and consultant for NASA):
David Brin shared a link.
http://www.upworthy.com/someone-give-th ... g=3&c=ufb4

One of the latest TED talk sensations is Allan Savory, who has spent his life combatting desertification, and who now believes we've had it all wrong for two generations. He claims that deserts are prevented, rather than created, by large herds of grazing animals. His presentation is worth watching and the re-evaluation that he triggers is delicious to my contrarian mind! On the other hand, it isn't hard for me to do a second, ornery veer and say "yes… but!"

Oh so many buts that make all this "save the planet" yelping a bit much. Like the fact that vast deserts clearly grew as human pastoralists were able to protect their herds from predators. Overgrazing is just as much a threat as undergrazing and Savory's technique requires the transient passage of large/dense herds of grazers, who stomp and fertilize an area without denuding it. A cavil that will require either intense supervision and daily management… or a return to predator-dense situations that keep the herds packed and moving. Moreover the grasslands that he has restored are anything but "healthy" ecosystems in their own right. Improved, but still denuded of trees by the very herbivore herds that Savory extolls. For true health you need at least partial coverage by trees, and that takes active management too, in order to protect them from the herbivores, like cattle, elephants and giraffes.

Finally, Savory's method emphasizes vast herds of cattle that are burdensome in their own right. One of the hopeful prospects on our horizon will be vat grown meat. If it can satisfy our appetites at three pounds of grain per pound of meat, then there will be more food and hope in the world, at far lower Karmic cost. I will not let fgo of that hope… though I appreciate Savory's input of an eye-opening realization. One that will do good! Just let's not get carried away.
Burke Burnett

A good counterpoint linked below. In short, Savory may have a point and his method may have valid applications in some regions - like southern Africa - where ungulate grazing was an integral part of grassland ecosystem evolution. But to try to apply it to all desert areas seems like a very bad idea.

In the words of the essayist linked below: "Savory has been around for a very long time preaching the same fallacious grazing gospel, and his name raises curled lips among land management scientists the way Velikovsky's name raises the ire of astronomers. He's merely the latest practitioner of a tradition a couple centuries long of land management mythologies based on wishful thinking that don't turn out to work. A century ago land speculation boosters in the American West claimed that "rain follows the plow"; Savory has merely updated that to "grass follows the cow."

I appreciate outside-the-box contrarianism, but to every contrarian viewpoint like Savory's, skepticism should also apply. That said, I'm a rainforest guy, not a grasslands guy so beyond that I'm not qualified to fully assess his argument. David, I think your comment/analysis in the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs are points well-taken.

http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus ... h-ted.html
Some select comments:
Alfred Sturges

What struck me was the idea that herds need to be made to keep close together. I do not believe this to be true, both from my own observation and from the observations of others. Cattle (and horses) naturally congregate even when no predators are present.

What I like though is the idea that animals naturally improve habitats. Kinda like what these little termites are doing:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/scien ... .html?_r=0
Fairy Circles in Africa May Be Work of Termites
New research posits that the reddish barren spots, known as fairy circles, that dot a narrow belt of African desert could be the work of industrious sand termites.
Belle Black

Rebuttal to KCET counterpoint: http://greenaddition.blogspot.ca/2013/0 ... world.html

PeapodLife: Ecosystems: the BEST way to feed the world & reverse climate change
Well, you've certainly managed to hang up your intellect on this one. What an utter load of horseshit! Evolution is not teleological. A high-order ecosystem may be something you try to create on your buildings (and seriously, that sounds like good work), but there are no high-order and low-order ecosystems...
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Re: Where goats Come From

Post by Rand » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:15 pm

Here's the logic behind breaking crusts and otherwise disturbing the ground and vegetation:
Standing dead material also inhibits water cycling twofold: by capturing some rainfall above the ground where it is lost to evaporation more quickly, and by its absence from the soil surface where it acts to slow evaporation and soften the impact of rain. Rain pounds bare soil unprotected by litter (broken plant material in contact with the soil, much like a light natural mulch) into a hard cap. Capped soils are less receptive to rainfall, particularly in short, low volume events when water tends to roll off or sit on top of the soil until it evaporates. Have you ever watered a pot plant that became over-dried? The water rolls off the surface and down the inside wall of the pot.

Capped soils are also hostile environments for seedling germination. Seeds sit on top of the soil, so germination of new plants is inhibited. Those that do germinate may die quickly from drying as evaporation depletes soil moisture. Mature plants will then dominate the plant community. Two-thirds of earth's land area is brittle.

Brittle environments, though, developed over time with a way to compensate for periods when decay organisms aren't active. This remedy kept the ecosystem processes cooking. Large herds of hoofed animals behaving under the influence of large predators (bunching together for protection, trampling plants and churning soil in agitation) and migrating with the seasons processed billions of tons of plant material, composted it in their rumens and deposited it back on the soil. Their hooves broke soil caps providing safer havens for germinating seeds and good seed-soil contact. They chipped away dead plant parts from previous years leaving surface litter to shade and protect the broken soil, and incorporated some, building soil structure and placing organic material in closer contact with deeper soil microbes. Broken soil caps facilitated penetration of rainfall, and organic matter in and on soil improved water-holding capacity.

The degree of brittleness in a given area can provide a framework for predicting the impacts of various land management activities. Please see the other articles in this series (listed below) to learn more.

We talk about invasive species all the time, does it really boggle the imagination that cryptogamic crust might grow in places where a higher productivity ecosystem might exist with the right management? On the other hand I can see it as rather brash to claim you can turn any old piece of desert to grassland, it still seems reasonable that grasslands might need a certain type of disturbance regime to maintain themselves. The posted critiques seem more laden with emotion and appeals to authority than a careful consideration of the subject.


Re: Where goats Come From

Post by Joe » Sat Apr 13, 2013 8:14 pm

it's an amazing TED video which I hope everyone will watch- it may not be applicable to all deserts, but he sounds very ratioanal to me and he gives evidence to back up his claims, at least for Africa.


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Re: Where goats Come From

Post by Don » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:21 pm

During the time I was in Flagstaff in the late 90's focused on forest restoration and working with others to assemble The Flagstaff Plan, a range conservation effort was forming called The Diablo Trust (http://www.diablotrust.org/projects_list.htm ). They too saw the value of collaboration with regional stakeholders, and community involvement, research and education.
A skeptic of animal husbandry on public lands, I didn't always fall easily into their line of reasoning. I recall one project where they contracted the stabilization of interstate overpass fill slopes, passing through their rangelands, at risk to the rare but active rainfall occurring the monsoon season. Their technique was to seed the slopes with a fast-growing grass seed (native wherever possible and appropriate), then range an appropriate density of cattle over those specific grass-seeded slopes to mix the seed in with the fill slope "soil". Yes, they had to feed cattle on native grasses sufficient that their manure contained no invasives. They had areas showing success with said techique, and invited public and management agencies to view them.
It worked, but it was focused and supervised, with a specific outcome. Which is not at all the land ethic employed by generations of ranchers who have abused the public lands, across millions of acres for extraordinarily low per/acre costs. Seldom focused, supervised by a least-effort strategy, the desired outcome was to raise and sell cattle for a profit. Period. Essentially causing 99% of Americans to subsidize .02% of the population that is ranchers, that they continue their lifestyle.

Cryptogamic crusts? For more than a century, ranchers ranged cattle through SW public lands indiscriminantly with neither knowledge nor concern for higher order ecosystem productivity. We have to think in the long run, and I believe that over time, cryptogamic crusts ARE the higher order productivity ecosystem, where NOT managed. No more introduced animal husbandry.

I guess my point is that the least-effort land management system strategies were "functional" only in the "frontier" era. The "frontier era" is gone. It will take focused management, supervision of the means that implement the strategies, and because it's public lands, a sustainable outcome that is first driven by natural resource constraints, not by profit margin. In my mind this applies to ALL resource extractions from public lands. With restoration of that land after loss of 'higher order productivity'. Sustainability as defined by constrained use, capable of subsequent restoration.

And it ain't gonna happen. Unless we can control our reproductive urges. The only answer is ZPG...zero population growth...followed by attrition...: > )
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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Re: Where goats Come From

Post by PAwildernessadvocate » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:35 am

"There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, species for species, than wilderness." --Edward O. Wilson

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