Desertification Reversal Project Wins the Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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On June 2, the Buckminster Fuller Institute held an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to present the finalists in the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge and to announce the first place winner. Each of the projects selected addresses one of the most acute challenges humanity faces now and in the future, such as diminishing freshwater resources and food supplies, and energy consumption Of the six finalists, who we covered here, one was awarded the $100,000 prize to assist in furthering its innovative and vital work: Operation Hope.

Operation Hope, a partnership between the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe and the Savory Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., converts savannas and grasslands that have been depleted by overfarming, overgrazing, or other mismanagement back into thriving, ecologically balanced lands that are useful for grazing and agriculture. By re-establishing the natural balance between plant growth and the behavior of grazing animals through a holistic management process, the program reverses loss of biodiversity and freshwater sources, combats climate change, and helps ensure food security by increasing crop yields. Learn more about Operation Hope's activities and land management practices here.

The project has reversed desertification of 6,500 acres of grassland in Zimbabwe, increased livestock herds by 400 percent, and significantly increased bodies of water.

This is a truly amazing program. As the planet's climate continues to undergo dramatic shifts, we face frightening possibilities, including that the land we depend on for food may become unusable. If we so mismanage our croplands that they become deserts or if climate change converts them to deserts, where will we grow our food? No matter what "city of the future"-type design competition entrants posit, I don't believe that shifting food production to vertical urban farms will adequately meet our needs.

The lessons Operation Hope is demonstrating in Zimbabwe are ones we should all be paying attention to.  You can watch videos of presentations by the six competition finalists and the announcement of the winner via, as well as videos from other Buckminster Fuller Challenge events.



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