HELM believes that degraded land has been caused by either a lack of proper land management or a misunderstanding of how to manage land. As a result, most of the world’s land mass has become or is becoming desert because key animals have been removed from the environment. The impact of this action has manifested a distortion in carbon, water and energy cycles. When we look at land this way, we can focus our attention on methods for implementing effective land management strategies to bring these cycles back into balance. Through effective land management, HELM endeavors to regenerate soil to relieve the symptoms of degraded land, which include excess flooding, soil loss, wild fires, dust storms and brownfields (contaminated water, soil, and sediment). The primary tool to mitigate against these symptoms will be livestock, used to mimic those former key grazing animals that once symbiotically co-existed with grasses and forbes, thick healthy topsoil and substantial water holding capacity.
Given growing uncertainty prompted by continuous global environmental degradation, HELM believes that water scarcity is a primary concern moving into the future. As civil engineers, with a substantial focus on water resources, HELM has evaluated, questioned, and even proposed approaches for water sustainability that move beyond conventional thinking.
Traditionally, civil engineers look at flooding as a problem that needs to be controlled through expensive centralized infrastructure, such as storage facilities or concrete channels. This approach treats storm water as a nuisance rather than a potential resource. HELM offers our clients a land management perspective to flood control that stems from our roots in Holistic Management, which takes advantage of the fact that excess runoff is inversely proportional to the land’s water holding capacity. Therefore, we believe that flood control should start at the location in which the rain actually falls.
Flooding is a result of excess runoff from land that cannot sufficiently infiltrate water; therefore, increasing the land’s ability to absorb and retain water can reduce flooding. For example, typically for every one (1) percent of soil organic matter, the soil’s water holding capacity increases by approximately 60,000 gallons of water per acre.Furthermore, land management practices that restore soil organic matter not only reduce flooding, but also mitigate soil loss, dust storms, wild fires, drought, and water scarcity.
As a company with the expertise to implement Holistic Management’s land management techniques, HELM offers land-connected solutions to both environmental issues and symptoms of desertification. These land management techniques can be bold and “out of the box”, such as the use of livestock to restore soil organic matter in areas impacted by severe drought and human-induced changes to land use.
At HELM, we see ourselves not only as engineers, but as resource managers who are dedicated to facing the challenges of declining land productivity, pressures from the global marketplace, cumbersome government regulations, and extreme weather. HELM can implement Holistic Management to literally re-terraform the land to help reverse both man-made desertification and environmental degradation. Topsoil without soil organic matter is merely dirt, which has minimal water holding capacity. Increasing soil organic matter increases the soil’s water holding capacity, which results in a return of once-perennial springs and creeks, increased production of agricultural land use, restoration of many perennial grasses, diverse wildlife, and an overall improved quality of life.
HELM offers consulting services that empowers land and resource managers, increasing their net gains and profits by improving land performance. These services can be applied in any climate, in both urban and rural settings. Our goals are to promote fully functioning water and mineral cycles and to restore a diverse community of organisms within the soil that generate clean water, healthy soil, and fresh air. HELM’s approach to land management is scalable, where regenerative systems and ecological cycles can operate for any given project area.