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Holistic management, key insights and brittleness by Ian Mitchell-Innes

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South African expert on mob grazing Ian Mitchell-Innes talks about management practices

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Holistic management, key insights and brittleness by Ian Mitchell-Innes

  1. 1. 1Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaHolisticManagement
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  5. 5. Holistic ManagementHolistic Management is aboutreducing risk in decision makingby having a holistic goal andusing planning procedures thatcreate a balance betweenfinancial, ecological and socialfactors.5Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  6. 6. “Holistic Management is….”doing what you need to do toachieve your holistic goal.6Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  7. 7. Key Insights on which HolisticManagement is basedHolism• Nature functions incomplex, constantly changing andunpredictable patterns or wholes andwill never be understood by onlystudying the non-existing parts.7Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  8. 8. Holism• Land is unmanageable - we can onlymanage our choices and the use of toolsfor influencing ecological processes.• We manage wholes through a continuouscycle of screening decisions, planningand monitoring of actions towards aholistic goal.8Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is based
  9. 9. • The Brittleness Scale9Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is based
  10. 10. On an imaginary scale of 1 to 10…1 represents the extreme (rainforest) in anon-brittle environment with high andconsistent humidity.10 represents the extreme (desert) in abrittle environment with low and infrequentor erratic humidity.Brittleness is determined by the distribution ofatmospheric humidity spread throughout theyear at soil surface in any environment.10Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  11. 11. • Providing the bugs, time, humidityand even temperature in their gutthe animals are the only tool wehave available to us to cycle carbonin brittle tending environments.11The Brittleness ScaleKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is based
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  21. 21. • The tool of REST results in oppositetendencies of change in the ecosystem atdifferent ends of the brittleness scale.• In non-brittle environments rest tends torestore bio-diversity and cover soils.• In brittle environments rest has thetendency to reduce bio-diversity andincrease bare soil.21Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Brittleness ScaleKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is based
  22. 22. 22Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is basedThe Predator-PreyRelationship
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  26. 26. • The behaviour of large herds resultsin the necessary soil surfacepreparation for optimal waterabsorption and water holding capacityof the soil, the cycling of nutrients, thecovering of soils with organic matteras well as seed planting.26Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is basedThe Predator-Prey Relationship
  27. 27. • Previous scientific recommendationsfor the healing of degraded soilstended to see grazers as a threat tothe recovery of grasslands.• In Holistic Management the symbioticrelationships betweengrazers, grasslands and a host of otherorganisms are recognized.27Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  28. 28. Overgrazing is afunction of time, notof animal numbers28Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is based
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  31. 31. Overgrazing is a function oftime, not of animal numbers• The movement of animals and the tools ofgrazing and rest are planned and monitoredby taking into account the time it takes forperennial grass plants to recover undervarying growing conditions.31Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaKey Insights on which HolisticManagement is based
  32. 32. There is one ecosystem that weview from 4 different perspectives.• Water• Mineral• Energy• Community Dynamics32Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Ecosystem Process
  33. 33. Mineral Cycle:The cycling of nutrients from plants, toother organisms to soils and back toplants. Dark green plant colour is anindicator of a healthy mineral cycle.33Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Ecosystem Process
  34. 34. Energy Flow PyramidABOVE GROUND34DecayBELOW GROUNDLoss of biomass at eachtrophic level because ofenergy loss frommetabolismSOIL SURFACE CONDITION IS KEYSOIL SURFACEPredatorsGrazersGrowing plantsLiving rootsMicro organisms, insects, invertebratesAnimals & insectsPredatorsDecayCopyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  35. 35. The volume of life in the ecosystem(pyramid / tetrahedron) is dependent onthe size of its base.Absolutely manageable:At soil surface!35Leaf area Plant volumeTime for growthCopyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaEnergy Flow
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  38. 38. Energy Flow:The capture of solar energy that is passedon to different trophic levels above andbelow ground. It is the basic potential for themass of life to survive and thrive.38Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Ecosystem Process
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  43. 43. Community Dynamics:Increased diversity of all life forms inthe community will lead to greaterstability, deeper, more mature soilsand higher energy flow.43Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Ecosystem Process
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  46. 46. Human creativity, money andlabour, and combinations of them willbe used in the application of othertools.They therefore are used indirectly onthe ecosystem.For this reason they feature outsidethe brackets in the HolisticManagement® Model.46Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
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  55. 55. Energy / Money Source and UseWhat:Is the energy or money to be used in thisaction derived from the most appropriatesource in terms of my/our holistic goal? Willthe way in which the energy or money is tobe used lead towards my/our holistic goal?55Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaTesting Guidelines – in Detail
  56. 56. This question helps you detectconsumptive uses of energy or moneythat have no lasting effect, that becomeaddictive or make you dependant.56Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  57. 57. Gross Profit Analysis(Comparing two or more enterprises)What:Which enterprises contribute the most tocovering the overheads of the business?57Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaTesting Guidelines – in Detail
  58. 58. The Marginal Reaction betweenenterprises is best looked at as gross profitper input of your current limiting factor.This could be Rand to invest, hours of timeor area available, etc.58Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  59. 59. More tips• Use your common sense – it is a basic skillfor making a decision.• Ideas must be checked for feasibility throughyour current grazing plan, financial plan, andland plan. In livestock situations theLivestock Production Worksheet is thecentral planning point from which all theplans are based.59Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaMaking Holistically SoundDecisions
  60. 60. • You must immediately plan some formof early warning monitoring which willhelp identify any change, towards oraway from the holistic goal.• Before making a decision consider yourexperience, the ManagementGuidelines and any other factors indeveloping the options.60Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  61. 61. Learning and Practice• Relates to personal growth and ways ofenhancing human creativity.• The knowledge under this topic also helpsto prepare people for paradigm shifts.61Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Management Guidelines
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  63. 63. Organization and Leadership• Includes knowledge and skills that help tonurture creativity and to design structuresand organizational procedures that facilitateconstructive collaboration and move youtowards your holistic goal.63Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Management Guidelines
  64. 64. Marketing• Relates to human creativity and thegeneration of strategies that are in linewith your holistic goal for sellingproducts and services.64Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Management Guidelines
  65. 65. Time• Knowledge and skills that relate tograzing and for determining when plantsand soils are ready to be exposed andre-exposed to grazing.65Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Management Guidelines
  66. 66. Stock Density and Herd Effect• Principles and knowledge that refers togenerating animal impact and helping toenhance the use of animals to shape thelandscape.66Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Management Guidelines
  67. 67. Cropping• Relates to living organisms and isknowledge that helps people to more closelyimitate nature when growing and harvestingcrops.67Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Management Guidelines
  68. 68. Burning• Relates to fire and helps people to betterdetermine when, if and how to burn andwhat to do before and after a fire.68The Management Guidelines
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  70. 70. • These are methodical planning andmonitoring processes that act like a roadmap for decision-making and creativemanagement of theecosystem, plants, land, animals andfinances to enhance the achievement ofour holistic goal.70Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  71. 71. • While there are other financial, grazingand land planning processes none ofthem address the balance that is strivedfor between ecology, finances and qualityof life that one strives for when managingholistically.71Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  72. 72. Holistic Financial Planning• Generating wealth in the true sense of theword and creating a financial plan thatleads to your holistic goal. Usually it isdone annually before your fiscal yearbegins and is an essential cash flowmanagement tool.72Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  73. 73. • Relates to living organisms andchallenges us to look to agestructure instead of numbers ofsingle species.73Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaPopulation Management
  74. 74. Holistic Financial Planning• It produces greaterknowledge, accountability and ownershiparound financial dynamics becauseeveryone accountable in the whole that ismanaged is involved at some stage oranother in the planning and monitoring.74Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  75. 75. People are prompted to examine theirsituation annually to identify if and whatmay be blocking progress towards theirholistic goal overall. The removal of thisblockage is given first priority in allplanning of activities for the year ahead.75Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  76. 76. Holistic Grazing Planning• A grazing planning procedure that helpsyou get your animals to the right place atthe right time for the right reasons.76Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  77. 77. It uses a detailed step-by-step guidelinedeveloped to simplify complex andever-changing circumstances and agraphic planning chart to help landmanagers remember the variousmanagement factors they need to takeinto account.77Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  78. 78. Holistic Grazing Planning• Holistic grazing planning involves themanipulation of the timing and length ofgrazing, area of land and numbers ofanimals while catering for numerousvariables related to management, otherorganisms and weather.78Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  79. 79. The planning steps occur in a specificorder, so you can effectively plan for adesired outcome that leads towards yourholistic goal as whole.79Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  80. 80. Holistic Grazing Planning• In the growing season the length ofgrazing periods is based on the time ittakes for grazed plants to recover and toproduce the maximum amount and qualityof forage.80Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  81. 81. In the non-growing season the aim is toration out the forage so that it lasts untilthe next growing season begins, withoptimal animal performance.The possibility of a drought or a delayedgrowing season is catered for every yearthrough a reserve that is based on timenot reserved area.81Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  82. 82. Holistic Grazing Planning• Livestock moves are planned backwards –starting with where animals need to be at acritical time and in what condition and thenplanning backwards so you know wherethey have to come from to get there.82Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  83. 83. The grazing plan coordinatescropping, wildlife needs, other landuses, as well as the personal schedulesof those operating the plan.83Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  84. 84. Holistic Grazing Planning• The use of animal impact (through stockdensity and herd effect) for land restorationand increased bio-diversity is incorporatedinto the plan.84Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  85. 85. Stocking rate is based on theeffectiveness of the water cycle and theamount of rainfall received and thereforeis re-adjusted annually at least.85Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  86. 86. Holistic Grazing Planning• In operating the plan, grazing periodsare adjusted to cater for actual dailygrowth rates of plants, livestockperformance and/or wildlife needs.86Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  87. 87. A methodical annual biological monitoringprocedure is used to make adjustments toactivities to ensure that the grazingplanning and/or other land uses actuallylead towards the future resource base asdescribed in your holistic goal.87Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  88. 88. Holistic Land Planning• A process for planning and gradualdevelopment of infrastructure(water, fencing, handling facilities etc.) onlarge tracts of land where livestock arerun.88Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  89. 89. Holistic Land Planning• No matter what state your infrastructureis in, it may need adaptation to makeyour move towards your holistic goalmore cost effective overall, faster and tomake management easier.89Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  90. 90. Holistic Management grazing planningrequires the use of different tools andthinking, that may well clash withinfrastructure planned in other ways.90Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  91. 91. Holistic Land Planning• Although the ideal plan may bedeveloped in a relatively short time, it isimplemented in annual steps inconjunction with the financial planning sothat improvements will actually makemore money and improve the ecologyrather than be a cost.91Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Planning Procedures
  92. 92. 92PLANMONITORCONTROLREPLAN(assume youcould be wrong)Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Feedback Loop
  93. 93. • When you are ready to implement yourplan or decision, you determine what youwill monitor to ensure that the desiredoutcome is achieved.• If you find you are off-track you need tochange what you are doing (control) to getback on track or re-plan completely ifthings have gone too far off track.93Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Feedback Loop
  94. 94. • No change is as bad as a changeleading away from your holistic goal.• When your plan or decision affects theenvironment, always assume that youcould have been wrong with your planas nature’s complexity exceeds thethinking capacity of humans.94Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Feedback Loop
  95. 95. • The key aspect and earliest sign ofchange in environmental monitoring lieswith soil surface condition.• Financial monitoring should be donemonthly as deviations from the plan are agiven.• In a social situation do not assumewrong at the outset because of thePygmalion effect, but it is still importantto monitor carefully.95Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaThe Feedback Loop
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  97. 97. • Successful in technology(transport, weapons, microchips, etc.) if weignore the effect on the environment• Has only created problems with all thingsnatural(agriculture, forestry, fisheries, humanrelationships, and desertification) - theseare all multidimensional wholes97Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaConventional Decision-Making
  98. 98. Why does it not work?• It only considers parts and neverconsiders wholes.• Goals are normally problem orientatedyet these problems have been causedby ourselves.98Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaConventional Decision-Making
  99. 99. • Animals are not available as tools yetthey are the only tool available toreduce the volume and recycle thecarbon locked up in plant material inmost of the world.• Biodiversity is not considered as capitalthat is irreplaceable.• Even the collaborative approach willfail when hunger mounts99Copyright © Community Dynamics, South Africa
  100. 100. Viewpoint:CONVENTIONAL• Complex world of interconnecting partsHOLISTIC• Complex world that functions in wholes100Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaConventional vs. HolisticDecision-Making
  101. 101. Goals:CONVENTIONAL• Better life implied through many goals• Problems treated as goalsHOLISTIC• One goal in three sections: Quality ofLife, Forms of Production, FutureResource Base (Landscape)• Problem solving never a goal101Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaConventional vs. HolisticDecision-Making
  102. 102. Tools:CONVENTIONAL• Creativity/money/labour• Rest, fire, technology, living organisms• No tools that can cycle carbon over mostof earth’s land surfaceHOLISTIC• As for conventional plus• Grazing and animal impact to cycle carbon102Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaConventional vs. HolisticDecision-Making
  103. 103. Decisions based on:CONVENTIONAL• Expert opinion, past experience, researchresults, peer pressure, intuition, cost-effectiveness, profitability, laws &regulations, compromise, sustainability, etc.HOLISTIC• Seven questions, on top of commonsense, that ensure decisions areecologically, economically, and sociallysound, relative to the three-part goal.103Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaConventional vs. HolisticDecision-Making
  104. 104. Monitoring:CONVENTIONAL• Assume all decisions are correct andmonitor to record results.HOLISTIC• Assume decisions affecting the land arewrong, and monitor to produce thedesired results.104Copyright © Community Dynamics, South AfricaConventional vs. HolisticDecision-Making