Allan Savory was born in Zimbabwe and educated in South Africa (University of Natal – BSc Biology and Botany). He pursued an early career as a research biologist and game ranger in the British Colonial Service of what was then Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia), and later as a farmer and game rancher in Zimbabwe. In the 1960s he made a significant breakthrough in understanding what was causing the degradation and desertification of the world’s grassland ecosystems and, as a resource management consultant, worked with numerous managers across four continents to develop sustainable solutions.
He served as a Member of Parliament in the latter days of Zimbabwe’s civil war and leader of the opposition to the ruling party headed by Ian Smith. Exiled in 1979 as a result of his opposition, he emigrated to the United States where he co-founded the Center for Holistic Management with his wife, Jody Butterfield, and in 2009, the Savory Institute. In 1992 they founded the Africa Centre for Holistic Management near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe whose purpose is to enhance food and water security and human livelihoods through training that utilizes livestock to restore degraded watersheds and croplands to health. Their book, Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision-Making (1999), describes Savory’s effort to find workable solutions ordinary people could implement to overcome many of the problems besetting communities and businesses today.
In 2003, Savory received Australia’s International Banksia Award “for the person or organization doing the most for the environment on a global scale,” joining previous recipients Rachel Carson and David Attenborough, among others.