Mar 10Liked by Mitch Rubin

On the seed dispersal note- I also know there are certain types of seeds that must pass through (particular?) animals' digestive systems in order to strip a coating off that allows the seed to germinate. I don't have specific examples for high carbon density trees but I'm guessing they're out there.

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Apr 18·edited Apr 18

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your essay bringing attention to the role ruminants can play in soil carbon drawdown.

While much of what you write is correct, a number of important points and nuances are missed.

First, we absolutely do need more wildlife.

"This once was a world that had 10 times more whales; 20 times more anadromous fish, like salmon; double the number of seabirds; and 10 times more large herbivores — giant sloths and mastodons and mammoths," Roman said.

No Crap: Missing 'Mega Poop' Starves Earth

October 26, 2015


What many scientists don’t yet realize is that properly-managed livestock must be used to heal degraded grasslands and savannas to create favorable conditions under which wildlife populations will thrive.

Leading conservation organizations throughout the world are using well-managed grazing of livestock to heal degraded soil, restore wildlife habitat, replenish dried-up rivers, and sequester carbon.

“To me, Allan [Savory]’s results are spectacular. Despite recent drought, [Holistic Planned Grazing] has transformed this ranch from desert to rich grassland. Today, the grass holds the water, and streams that were dry for decades are flowing again ... it could be the best thing, the absolute best thing, conservation has ever discovered.” — Conservation biologist M. Sanjayan, PhD, CEO of Conservation International and former lead scientist of The Nature Conservancy

(2015, 2 mins.)


See examples below of conservation organizations utilizing regenerative grazing to improve wildlife habitat.

Second, as discussed in this two-part interview, wild animals, although essential for ecological health, cannot be used for regenerative grazing. This was discovered by Allan Savory in the 1970s after he tried doing it for several years then stopped after it became apparent it wasn’t working.

Regenerating Civilisation: Allan Savory on holistic management, scaling & a sense of survival

(Dec. 1, 2020, 1 hr. 17 mins.)


The Domino Effect: Allan Savory on addressing the cause of climate change, megafire & desertification

(Dec. 1, 2020, 36 mins.)


Third, the role of predators is to keep grazers bunched into a herd. However, predators do not keep the herd moving across the landscape. Rather, repulsion to dung and urine on sullied grass is what keeps the grazing herd continually on the move in search of fresh forage. In addition to preventing overgrazing, this repulsive effect is responsible for keeping the herd from re-visiting the same area to graze again until enough weathering happens to dispel the manure and odor. In turn, this long recovery period allows the grass (i.e., grasses, forbs, legumes) to re-grow fully before it is re-grazed.

Fourth, Rotational Grazing, a calendar-based method of animal movement, does not provide the flexibility necessary to regularly change animal movements based on the vicissitudes of varying temperature, rainfall, sunlight, etc. Instead, to be optimally effective, plant height must be monitored regularly and animal movements either sped up or slowed down in response. This precision is the reason why Holistic Planned Grazing, aka Adaptive Multi-paddock Grazing, is dramatically more effective than Rotational Grazing which, under certain circumstances, can be deleterious to ecological and soil health.

“Unlike rotational grazing which adheres to a calendar, [Holistic Planned Grazing] involves moving livestock in response to information gained from monitoring the land and animals. Decisions are ‘determined by the plant growth, constantly monitoring and adjusting... allowing for recovery time at the end’”

Climate change mitigation as a co-benefit of regenerative ranching: insights from Australia and the United States

Gosnell et al. 2020


This semantic distinction is clouded by the fact that the definition of Rotational Grazing appears to be shifting, such that when some graziers say they are doing “Rotational Grazing” they are actually doing Holistic Planned Grazing (i.e., using a grazing chart to plan, monitor, and adjust animal movements). Frankly, the terminology is a mess. This is a key source of the confusion by some academics concerning regenerative grazing.

Lastly, the best Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) approach to ecological restoration I am aware of is the Savory Institute’s Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) protocol.


Burberry and New Balance are among more than 200 corporate partners in the Savory Institute’s Land to Market program, based on its EOV protocol.


I hope this information is helpful.

The following resources may be of interest.

If you have any questions, I would be glad to discuss this matter with you.

Best wishes,

Karl Thidemann

Cofounder, Soil4Climate

Hope Below Our Feet: Peer-Reviewed Publications on Well-Managed Grazing as a Means of Improving Rangeland Ecology, Building Soil Carbon, and Mitigating Global Warming


Regenerative Agriculture Seminar - Dr. Richard Teague With Q&A - CSU Chico Media

(2017, 1 hr. 32 mins.)


Allen Williams, PhD - Restore Soil and Ecosystem Health with Adaptive Grazing

(2018, 42 mins.)


Note: Adaptive Grazing is short for Adaptive Multi-paddock Grazing, a term used by some academics to describe Allan Savory’s Holistic Planned Grazing.

Soil Carbon Cowboys

(2013, 12 mins.)


More videos on regenerative grazing at ...

Carbon Cowboys Film Paddocks



Filling in a Holistic Planned Grazing chart

(2020, 1 hr. 21 mins.)


Holistic Planned Grazing Chart for Livestock Management

Heifer USA

(2021, 8 mins.)


Holistic Management, Third Edition: A Commonsense Revolution to Restore Our Environment – Allan Savory, Jody Butterfield (2017)

Holistic Management Handbook, Third Edition: Regenerating Your Land and Growing Your Profits – Allan Savory, Jody Butterfield, and Sam Bingham (2019)

The National Audubon Society created its Conservation Ranching program in response to steep declines in grassland bird populations.

What in the World is Conservation Ranching? Your guide to Audubon's program to make cattle ranching prairie- and bird-friendly

October 2, 2017


“A healthy beef industry is an important conservation partner, and with their support, enables us to conserve what’s left of Canada’s grasslands,” said the letter from groups such as Ducks Unlimited, Birds Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Canadian Conservation groups rally behind beef sector

June 16, 2020


“WWF-Australia works with innovative beef producers to develop, trial and validate improved livestock and pasture management that can deliver significant economic, social and environmental gains. Our major objectives are to reduce sediment in stormwater run-off from farms and improve water quality in the catchments feeding into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, while also conserving habitat for wildlife on farmland.”

Project Pioneer - WWF-Australia

September 2020


“The results of this study show a potential win-win situation for the Pantanal and Cerrado’s ranches and wildlife,” said the study’s lead author, Donald Parsons Eaton of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Grazing as a Conservation Tool

May 3, 2011


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Good thoughts here, thanks for writing it.

I believe the "69% of wildlife" thing is a shot in the dark, and at the very least, should have a fat asterisk next to it. It's not that we shouldn't be alarmed by the fact that wildlife may be declining, but we also should transparently acknowledge that we don't really know if that's true. I tried digging into and explaining this in a recent post on my new substack if you want to see what I mean.

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Not all animals are the same. Domestic dogs and cats are undergoing exponential growth and their carbon pawprints are vastly underestimated. The USA has roughly five times the per capita ownership rate of other affluent countries but China is closing. In the US, dogs and cats consume about a third of the animal-derived food produced. They produce about 30%, by mass, of the feces of USAnians (5.6 million tons vs. 19 million tons), and, through their diet, constitute about 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impacts from farm animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and toxic agrochemicals. Dog and cat foods are responsible for release of up to 80 million tons of CO2 and CO2-equivalent methane and nitrous oxide, more climate pollution than 147 nations. Globally, pets are responsible for 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions each year. https://medium.com/the-shadow/the-great-pause-week-70-painting-cats-by-the-numbers-f852ff81665c

Then consider the impact of domestic cats on biodiversity. Every house cat has a hunting territory of 1480 acres — 2.3 sq miles, 6 sq km or 20 city blocks. While they may live in packs of up to 20 females, they are solitary hunters for reasons of stealth. They fan out and sweep up all prey. Domestic and feral cats cause billions of deaths to native animals each year — more than a billion endangered songbirds each year just in North America. In Australia, cats drove at least 20 native mammals to extinction, and continue to threaten at least 124 more. Their introduction has caused the extinction of at least 33 endemic species on island chains like Hawai’i, the Seychelles, the Marshall, and more.

That’s the extinction threat to wildlife. To grasp the extinction threat to humans you need to look at cat food that pet owners buy. Cats are obligate carnivores — meaning, they depend upon the nutrients present in animal flesh. It is no surprise that cats relish freshly killed meat from rodents, rabbits, amphibians, birds, reptiles and fish, and will go out of their way to obtain it. They will reluctantly eat cooked food or dry food if it is palatable (but they can be finicky). Cats require nutrients (including arginine, taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and niacin) coming mainly, and only easily, from meat sources. That’s the extinction threat to birds. To grasp the extinction threat to humans you need to look at cat food that pet owners buy. Cats are obligate carnivores — meaning, they depend upon the nutrients present in animal flesh. It is no surprise that cats relish freshly killed meat from rodents, rabbits, amphibians, birds, reptiles and fish, and will go out of their way to obtain it. They will reluctantly eat cooked food or dry food if it is palatable (but they can be finicky). Cats require nutrients (including arginine, taurine, arachidonic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and niacin) coming mainly, and only easily, from meat sources. https://medium.com/the-shadow/the-great-pause-week-69-one-dark-secret-about-the-climate-emergency-you-wont-hear-anywhere-else-2429d033feb0

If just a quarter of all animal protein used in the food of American pets was human-grade, it would provide the caloric intake average for 5 million USAnians or 50 million Syrians or Venezuelans. Dog diets are estimated to be composed of 33 percent animal protein. Cats need 99 percent.

Greta Thunberg, who owns a dog, warned global leaders that “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire — because it is.” People don’t like to hear this, but their pets are stoking that fire. If we want to get serious about this, we need to put them out.

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