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Operation Hope Revegetates Zimbabwe

6/14/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: Operation Hope, Buckminster Fuller Challenge, land management, Africa, grasslands, desertification

The winner of this year’s Buckminster Fuller Challenge—an annual competition to recognize initiatives that could solve the world’s biggest challenges—is a great example of how the earth heals itself, if it’s allowed to do so.

Operation Hope team
Operation Hope is working to replenish degraded Zimbabwe grasslands. Photo Courtesy Buckminster Fuller Institute 

Operation Hope, a joint project by the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe and the Savory Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, transforms parched and degraded Zimbabwe grasslands back into lush pastures with ample water, even during drought. The holistic land-management strategy fights desertification by dramatically increasing the number of herd animals on the land. The animals follow the traditional nomadic patterns that kept the grasslands lush when herds roamed freely, fertilizing the grasses with their waste and compacting the soil with their trampling, encouraging plant growth.

Operation Hope desert
This land has been bare and eroding for more than 30 years. Photo Courtesy Buckminster Fuller Institute. 

Operation Hope desert after
This lush land is the results of animals following the traditional nomadic patterns that kept the grasslands lush when herds roamed freely, fertilizing the grasses with their waste and compacting the soil with their trampling, encouraging plant growth. Photo Courtesy Buckminster Fuller Institute. 

Operation Hope received $100,000 from the Buckminster Fuller Institute to further develop its work, which is being practiced on more than 30 million acres worldwide.

Other finalists included an Indian organization that teaches women in remote towns how to install solar lighting systems; a closed-system greenhouse for efficient farming in water-scarce communities in Germany; a Chicago group that captures, cleans and returns wastewater and stormwater to the Great Lakes; the Living Building Challenge; and a Brooklyn-based organization that connects farmers and consumers as co-producers using urban backyards.

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