Known as an outdated way of life, Nomadic Lifestyle is nowadays on the on edge of extinction. Why? because we’ve failed to see its great practical value in preserving nature. Nowadays different nations are calling for a return to the traditional methods in preserving nature. We already have it, and we have every reason to keep and appreciate it.
I remember when I first joined Iran Nomad Tours, for months I was looking for a compelling reason why Nomads need to be preserved. I had some reasons, but scientifically speaking I had no clue why Nomads and their seasonal migration (transhumance/kooch) is of vital importance to the environment. I can exactly remember my epiphanic moment after watching Dr. Savory’s lecture. In 2013, Allan Savory gave a lecture about the way we can stop desertification.
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He gave a message to the world; “a very simple message that offers more hope tha
He gave a message to the world; “a very simple message that offers more hope than you can imagine.” it was truly hopeful. Following, we can know about how he finally got to know the truth through his trial and error.
Livestock: The Leading Cause of Desertification
Dr. savory began his talk by telling a common, widespread idea:
“we know that desertification is caused by livestock, mostly cattle, sheep and goats, overgrazing the plants, leaving the soil bare and giving off methane. Almost everybody knows this, from nobel laureates to golf caddies, or was taught it, as I was … and I loved wildlife, and so I grew up hating livestock because of the damage they were doing. And then my university education as an ecologist reinforced my beliefs.”
Then, like an environmental guide, he passes us through the facts one step at a time. He invites us to a journey which is worth going; “Well, I have news for you. We were once just as certain that the world was flat. We were wrong then, and we are wrong again. And I want to invite you now to come along on my journey of reeducation and discovery.”
Terrible on the Surface, Miraculous at the Bottom
While they were launching a project in Africa, they realized a wonderful reality. Although the experience costs them dear, it was truly worth it.
“When I was a young man, a young biologist in Africa, I was involved in setting aside marvelous areas as future national parks. Now no sooner—this was in the 1950s—and no sooner did we remove the hunting, drum-beating people to protect the animals, than the land began to deteriorate…
Now, no livestock were involved, but suspecting that we had too many elephants now, I did the research and I proved we had too many, and I recommended that we would have to reduce their numbers and bring them down to a level that the land could sustain.
Now, that was a terrible decision for me to have to make, and it was political dynamite, frankly. So our government formed a team of experts to evaluate my research. They did.
They agreed with me, and over the following years, we shot 40,000 elephants to try to stop the damage.
And it got worse, not better. Loving elephants as I do, that was the saddest and greatest blunder of my life, and I will carry that to my grave. One good thing did come out of it. It made me absolutely determined to devote my life to finding solutions.”
The Unknown Processes
“When I came to the United States, I got a shock, to find national parks like this one desertifying as badly as anything in Africa. And there’d been no livestock on this land for over 70 years.
And I found that American scientists had no explanation for this except that it is arid and natural. So I then began looking at all the research plots I could over the whole of the Western United States where cattle had been removed to prove that it would stop desertification, but I found the opposite,… And the authors of the position paper on climate change… attribute this change to “unknown processes.”
From a scientific point of view, our increasing populations and massive use of technology are resulting in desertification.
Nowadays we create too much bare grounds. Soil must be covered so that Carbon can be preserved in the soil. Otherwise, it goes back to the atmosphere.
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Nomads & the livestock: The stewardship of the Earth
Once it was believed desertification is caused by livestock mostly cattle, sheep and goats, overgrazing the plants, leaving the soil bare and giving off methane. It was thought they are damaging nature. But quite the opposite they are the important factor in preventing desertification.
“What we had failed to understand was that these seasonal humidity environments of the world, the soil and the vegetation developed with very large numbers of grazing animals, … large herds dung and urinate all over their own food, and they have to keep moving, and it was that movement that prevented the overgrazing of plants, while the periodic trampling ensured good cover of the soil, as we see where a herd has passed.”
“Now, looking at this grassland of ours that has gone dry, what could we do to keep that healthy? And bear in mind, I’m talking of most of the world’s land now. Okay? We cannot reduce animal numbers to rest it more without causing desertification and climate change.
We cannot burn it without causing desertification and climate change. What are we going to do? There is only one option, I’ll repeat to you, only one option left to climatologists and scientists, and that is to do the unthinkable, and to use livestock, bunched and moving, as a proxy for former herds and predators, and mimic nature.
There is no other alternative left to mankind.”So, you see how crucial this movement can be.
When the flock moves through different lands during migration, the sheep and goats leave their dung and urine throughout their path, and this makes it possible for the soil to absorb and hold the rain and store carbon, and to break down methane and finally to be alive.
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Therefore, the only answer to “How we can preserve the nature?” is to use livestock to mimic nature, and the best lifestyle to suit the shepherds when they move their flock is a nomadic lifestyle.
Nowadays, the villagers in Africa are learning how to pass their herds through the lands, exactly like what Iran Nomads do in their seasonal migrations.
They are told to put their animals together into larger herds and plan their grazing to mimic nature, and these points are exactly what Iran Nomads have been doing for centuries. Such measures are proved to be so helpful, as they make the crop fields prepared and consequently there would be a great increase in crop yields as well.
Each year, in spring and autumn, the Nomads of Iran embark on their seasonal migration.
They have been doing this for centuries, and they are the chief stewards of Mt. Zagros nature.