This paper argues that the infusion of holistic decision making into the practice of planned grazing, or “regenerative ranching,” results in a suite of ecological, economic and social benefits that are the main factors keep adherents on the regenerative path. Climate change mitigation is only a ‘co-benefit’ or after-thought. Regenerative ranching, say the authors, is generally associated with holistic management, holistic decision-making, and holistic planned grazing and, as their results suggest, these aspects are what make managing in a way that promotes soil carbon sequestration attractive and sustainable for ranchers. Regenerative ranching is challenging, however, because it requires a deep understanding of ecological processes along with a set of skills related to monitoring and moving livestock and feeding the soil microbiome. Additionally, practitioners must navigate a variety of social constraints.
While generic ‘managed grazing’ has the potential to sequester carbon, it does not, by itself, manifest the features that make people want to do it. The use of holistic decision-making in the implementation of managed grazing amplifies its effects and increases regenerative potential, and, by extension, climate change mitigation potential. It is the rewarding feed-backs that come from practising and thinking holistically that make people want to stay on the path.
Gosnell Hannah, Susan Charnley and Paige Stanley. 2020. “Climate change mitigation as a co-benefit of regenerative ranching: Insights from Australia and the United States.” Interface Focus 10: 20200027. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2020.0027