Holistic Management: Another Tool in Your Kit Bag

When you make a decision, what do you consider? Expert advise and scientific research? Intuition? Past experience?

Will your decision achieve what you want? And how quickly? Is your decision lawful, ethical? Will it make you money? Annoy the neighbours? Win you accolades?

There are so many things to consider when making decisions, large and small. Whether you’re choosing between planting corn or watermelons next summer, or deciding on an irrigation system for a conservation project, or working out whether or not to take that overseas holiday (a lot of our decisions have a distinct financial component), your decisions may have reverberations for years to come.

Generally we make decisions on whatever our goals are at that particular time, without necessarily considering whether or not it has long term consequences for the sustainability of our soil, or our grandchildren’s ability to eat healthy food.

Is there a better way to make our decisions? A way that does consider all of the factors – social, financial, and environmental?

Allan Savory believes there is. So he created a system for making decisions, and called it Holistic Management. It’s simply a ‘framework’ for making decisions that takes into consideration all of the factors, social, financial, and environmental, both short and long term. It’s a way to make better decisions for yourself, your family, your co-workers, future generations, the planet, AND your backpocket.

Sound too good to be true?

It all begins with the end in mind. A goal. Or what they refer to in Holistic Management circles as a ‘Holistic Context’. This is something that is created by all those in your ‘whole’ (which might be your family members, or your management team). It’s when you really dig down deep and work out what you really want out of life. Then you make all of your decisions with this goal in mind.

There is a strong land management component in the Holistic Management teachings. Allan Savory has a land management background as a Zimbabwean biologist. Savory observed the natural herding tendencies of the buffalo, zebra and antelope, and realised that large grazing animals play a critical role in the health of some environments.

Later, when working in the USA he came to realise that this deterioration of the African environment was not necessarily a result of overpopulation, poverty, overstocking, lack of technology or lack of expert advice. The same deterioration was happening in Western Texas, USA, where they had the opposite factors – a declining population, the latest technology, and sophisticated expert advice. The only common denominator between these two situations was the decisions the human managers of these environments had made.

Savory recognised that environments everywhere only function in ‘whole’ systems and that we need to change the way we view and manage the land. This led to the development of the Holistic Management decision making framework, as we know it today.

And people all over the world, Australia included, are seeing real results using the Holistic Management framework: increased stocking rates (up to 400%), increased profits, more productive and healthier soils, reduced costs, reversal of desertification, increased biodiversity and wildlife habitat, increased water retention, better food security, and better family relationships.

Whether you’re a running a market garden, a bakery, a grazing property, or a family (the most complex of all!) – the Holistic Management framework can help you make better decisions, think more sustainably, become more connected with the land, and create the type of life you want.

Emily Stokes

(currently in the midst of a Holistic Management course through TAFE NSW with certified HM educator Brian Wehlburg)

(btw, if you want to find out more about Holistic Management, google it! There is also a very comprehensive book called Holistic Management, 1998, by Allan Savory which your library might have)

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