Table of Contents
International Journal of Biodiversity
Volume 2014, Article ID 163431, 10 pages
Review Article

Holistic Management: Misinformation on the Science of Grazed Ecosystems

1Kiesha’s Preserve, Paris, ID 83261, USA
2Wild Utah Project, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, USA
3Grand Canyon Trust, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
4Western Watersheds Project, Pinedale, WY 82941, USA
5Foundation for Deep Ecology, Bend, OR 97708, USA

Received 6 February 2014; Accepted 24 March 2014; Published 23 April 2014

Academic Editor: Lutz Eckstein

Copyright © 2014 John Carter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over 3 billion hectares of lands worldwide are grazed by livestock, with a majority suffering degradation in ecological condition. Losses in plant productivity, biodiversity of plant and animal communities, and carbon storage are occurring as a result of livestock grazing. Holistic management (HM) has been proposed as a means of restoring degraded deserts and grasslands and reversing climate change. The fundamental approach of this system is based on frequently rotating livestock herds to mimic native ungulates reacting to predators in order to break up biological soil crusts and trample plants and soils to promote restoration. This review could find no peer-reviewed studies that show that this management approach is superior to conventional grazing systems in outcomes. Any claims of success due to HM are likely due to the management aspects of goal setting, monitoring, and adapting to meet goals, not the ecological principles embodied in HM. Ecologically, the application of HM principles of trampling and intensive foraging are as detrimental to plants, soils, water storage, and plant productivity as are conventional grazing systems. Contrary to claims made that HM will reverse climate change, the scientific evidence is that global greenhouse gas emissions are vastly larger than the capacity of worldwide grasslands and deserts to store the carbon emitted each year.