Allan was born in Rhodesia, southern Africa. 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, game rancher, politician and international consultant, based in Southern Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe). In the 1960s, while working on the interrelated problems of increasing poverty and disappearing wildlife, he made a significant breakthrough in understanding what was causing the degradation and desertification of the world’s grassland ecosystems. He went on to work, as a resource management consultant, with numerous managers, eventually on four continents, to develop sustainable solutions.
His early results in reversing land degradation in a manner that made, rather than cost, money were impressive. But, as he often states, his failures were equally impressive! Finally, in the mid 1980’s the last of some key missing pieces fell into place. Since then thousands of land, livestock and wildlife managers have been able to demonstrate consistent results following the methodology he called “holistic management.”
Savory 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 non-profit organization Holistic Management International with his wife, Jody Butterfield. In 1992 they formed a second non-profit (social welfare) organization near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management, donating a ranch that would serve as a learning site for people all over Africa. Savory and the five local Chiefs are permanent Trustees of the Africa Centre. Savory and his wife divide their time between Zimbabwe and New Mexico.
In 2003, Savory was awarded the Banksia International Award for the person or organization doing the most for the environment on a global scale. His current work in Africa is receiving much praise and recognition and the Africa Centre for Holistic Management was announced the winner of the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Award for the organization working to solve the world’s most pressing problems.