Soil4Climate and Maasai Center for Regenerative Pastoralism Launch Grazing Effort to Heal Land, Address Climate Change
December 30, 2019 - NAIROBI, Kenya - Soil4Climate and the Maasai Center for Regenerative Pastoralism (MCRP) today announced the official start of a land restoration effort called Enkop Osiligi, Maasai for "Promised Land."
The Enkop Osiligi program offers hope for rural pastoralism by implementing a revolutionary grazing practice, Holistic Planned Grazing, that heals degraded soil. Improving soil fertility in this way increases its carbon content, enhances food and water security, and mitigates global warming.
By using large, tightly packed and frequently moved herds, Holistic Planned Grazing replicates how enormous packs of wild grazers such as wildebeest, zebra, and other ruminants beneficially impacted the land.
The partitioning of land has led to many small herds grazing in a haphazard fashion, resulting in unnatural animal impact. This has caused land degradation, soil erosion, and the proliferation of weeds unpalatable to livestock. Although not readily apparent, it has also led to a loss of soil carbon, or “soil organic matter,” exacerbating climate change and leaving grazed areas more vulnerable to droughts and floods.
To counter this trend, the Enkop Osiligi project has facilitated training in regenerative grazing management for land-owning families in the Maasai village of Enkutoto Nalala. It has also provided funding to purchase cows to increase the herd sufficiently to ensure beneficial land impact, and to construct an earth dam to capture rainfall for the livestock to drink. As well, the project funds other restorative agricultural approaches including reforestation and bee keeping.
A scientific research program to monitor ecosystem impacts, such as changes in soil carbon and in the diversity of plant species, is presently under development.
Financial support for the Enkop Osiligi project has been provided through crowdfunding and the generosity of US-based Nutiva Inc., which donates 1% of its sales to regenerative agriculture.
John Roulac, founder of Nutiva, said, "It is an honor to support this creative initiative that serves as a model for restoring degraded land and rejuvenating herding communities in Kenya, Tanzania, and other arid countries throughout the world.”
"Soil4Climate is pleased to partner with the Maasai Center for Regenerative Pastoralism on this historic project that propels Maasai herders into the forefront of the effort to restore soil carbon to reverse global warming,” commented Seth Itzkan, cofounder of Soil4Climate.
Dalmas Tiampati, founder and executive director of MCRP, stated, "Grazing is what the Maasai do. Our community believes this is a great opportunity for us and for the world. I look forward to helping to restore my homeland, and take comfort in the international interest in and support for our efforts.”
The Maasai Center for Regenerative Pastoralism, a Kenya-based nonprofit, works with Maasai pastoralists to implement regenerative land management practices.
Soil4Climate, a US-based environmental nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, advocates for soil restoration as a climate solution. Join the 15,000+ scientists, farmers, policymakers, journalists, and concerned global citizens of Soil4Climate at facebook.com/groups/Soil4Climate.
By Seth Itzkan
The livable future is only reached when a carbon neutral energy economy is complemented with a CARBON NEGATIVE food production system.
Photo Copyright Seth Itzkan 2019
I'm glad there are a few cultures left in the world that understand the essential relationship between animals and food and soil and animals. When we expand that to include soil and climate, there will be hope.
There is no safe climate future for humanity in which large parts of the world's terrestrial biosphere are not replenished of their once prodigeous reservoirs of soil cabon with proper grazing management. The co-evolution of ruminants and grassland soils over the last 30 million years reduced atmospheric CO2 concentrations from approximately 1000 to 300 ppm, creating the very conditions suitable for the emergence of humanity. We are now reversing nature's drawdown legacy.
There is no safe climate future for humanity in which large parts of the world's terrestrial biosphere are not replenished of their once prodigeous reservoirs of soil cabon with proper grazing management.
As much as a thousand billion tons of carbon may have been oxidized out of the world's soils since humans began killing megafauna, setting fires, and, only recently (in the last ten thousand years), plowing. Long before we discovered fossil fuels, humans were causing climate change through deleterious land management. We've already postponed an ice age. The period of relative climate stability over the last 10,000 years, known as the Holocene, is unprecedented and unexplained other than from the CO2 loading we were doing with the preindustrial tools available to us. Fossil fuel use has dramatically accelerated human induced global warming and must be terminated, clearly. Nonetheless, fossil fuels are not the original cause of our current existential problem and ceasing their use won't on its own halt the warming nor our appointment with extinction.
The livable future is only reached when a carbon neutral energy economy is complemented with a CARBON NEGATIVE food production system. Doing *that* requires restoration of the world's grassland soils with grazing - lots and lots of grazing - with lots and lots of animals - and the animals will need to be organized in large mobile herds, similar to how wild ungulates of antiquity roamed.
Fortunately, innovations in livestock management, such as holistic planned grazing, are rising to this challenge and creating templates for how to meet human protein needs while restoring the land base, including the soil cabon that sustains life (and climate).
Although the anti-meat movement has legitimate arguments with factory farms, the decimation of tall-grass prairie for conversion to chemical dependant monocrop gains is equally abhorrent and both are symptoms of the industrialization of food through reductionist management. Each leads to poor health and global warming.
At Soil4Climate, we are assisting a Maasai community to INCREASE their livestock holdings while organizing to improve the surrounding ecology - including the succession of weeds to grasses - with modified grazing management. Let's work together for the ethical treatment of animals and soil within a realistic context that can feed humanity while drawinging down atmospheric carbon. The answer isn't in fake food produced in high-tech factories with genetically modified yeast. The answer is in nature. Let's go there. Let's graze and eat responsibly and respectfully. The Maasai do it. So can we.
Peace and Love, - Seth
(p.s. This head was cooked and eaten shortly after the photo was taken. It tasted like lamb. Go figure.)