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Healing the Planet by Transforming Sand Back to Soil with Rodger Savory (Episode #174)

In our rush to solve problems, we often overlook simple logic that holds the key to enormous progress. When it comes to turning the man-made desert wastelands of our planet back into the lush, productive forests and grasslands they once were, Ecologist Rodger Savory has a transformational observation that the world could be embracing.



About Our Guest:

In the realm of brilliant, practical environmental solutions, Rodger Savory stands out for his unwavering commitment to healing the wounds we’ve inflicted on Mother Earth, using pure common sense.

All over the world, there are places where human activity has disturbed the landscape so badly that nothing will ever grow again…or so we thought. Ecologist Rodger Savory has an elegantly simple methodology that can turn sand into soil again, and he has worked collaboratively to implement it in 64 countries on all continents with billionaires, average joes, and even people in the depths of poverty. 

Through decades of dedication, Rodger has spearheaded projects that breathe life back into landscapes that have been written off as lost causes. These projects, scattered across the globe, showcase his innovative techniques, and the transformative power of ecological restoration. The impact of Rodger’s work, transforming barren lands into thriving ecosystems, is a testament to the potential there is for positive change when passion meets practicality.

“Globally, up to 40% of previously productive land has already been degraded, according to the United Nations. By 2045, some 135 million people around the world may be displaced by desertification.” 

– By ShareAmerica, Jun 13, 2023 – U.S. scientists work to stave off desertification 

You’re probably thinking that these desertified places are somewhere far away, but no; our human endeavors have turned once lush environments into wastelands right in our own backyards. California, Colorado, Texas, Oregon, and many other places close to home have suffered this fate over the last century or so. 

What many people don’t know, however, is that these changes can be reversed—and Rodger Savory is leading the charge. More than just an ecologist, he is a beacon of hope, armed with a deep understanding of ecosystems and a family history steeped in innovation.

Rodger’s solutions are not confined to theories and academic discourse. His insights stem from a deep understanding of how our planet has worked for millions of years, and his boots-on-the-ground approach also sets him apart in the field. He has been actively engaged in restoring areas that humans have turned into deserts for decades, and his insights go beyond simply planting trees.

One of Rodger’s key insights lies in recognizing the interconnectedness of all living things within an ecosystem. He pioneered the Biological Carpeting Method of land restoration and livestock management, and perfected the technique over several decades.

His ideas seem revolutionary at first, but then, as they start to percolate in our minds, they remind us of things we all learned in high school: concepts like UV light, the microscopic world, and the basic interactions of organic chemicals. In the end, he weaves all that basic science into an elegant strategy for recovery that we can all get behind. 

Instead of imposing solutions, Rodger collaborates with nature, leveraging its inherent regenerative power. His projects focus on restoring the health of soil, reintroducing native vegetation, and reviving the diverse fauna that once called these desolate areas home.

As someone who has achieved widespread recognition for his success in jumpstarting sustainable life cycles on severely desertified lands, Rodger Savory often emphasizes the importance of community involvement in restoration efforts. Whether it’s educating local communities about sustainable practices or actively involving them in the restoration process, he believes that true transformation occurs when people come together around the basic ecological principles that nature has always obeyed.

Born in Africa and raised both there and in the United States, Rodger is also a U.S. Army veteran, and a graduate of the University of New Mexico. He is by no means coming from the “tree-hugger” camp; he understands that any solution he engineers must balance profit with environmental and social responsibility, 

Rodger’s journey as an ecologist is not just about saving the environment; it’s a testament to the power of family heritage, innovation, and the human spirit. As we follow his footsteps, we are inspired to look at the deserts around us not as lost causes, but as canvases awaiting the brushstrokes of regeneration.

Through his insights and endeavors, Rodger Savory beckons us to join the collective effort of reviving nature’s masterpiece for generations to come. Join us for a conversation about what those brushstrokes—real leaps in environmental progress—can look like.

References Mentioned:


  • 0:00 – Intro & Welcome
  • 3:00 – Caring About Future Generations
  • 8:00 – The Roots of Desertification
  • 13:10 – Break
  • 15:27 – A Personal History Interwoven with Nature
  • 17:17 – Unveiling the Biological Carpet
  • 23:49 – Quick Insight into Land Restoration
  • 27:10 – The Critical Top Millimeter
  • 31:30 – Understanding the Micro Water Cycle
  • 35:40 – Revitalizing Depleted Soils
  • 38:55 – Agricultural Practices and Their Consequences
  • 42:45 – Everything Is Connected
  • 49:52 – The Barrier of Instinctual Fear
  • 53:52 – Success in Australia
  • 58:50 – Closing

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