Chris Henggeler – Standing on the shoulders of giants (Savory, Ingham, Provenza) and managing over 77000 hectares in remote Australia

A conversation with Chris Henggeler, a second-generation high-density, low-duration herder using herds for land management. From one of the most remote places in Australia, we explore big myths like many animals damage the land, to a huge question: can we actually put the new megafauna to work? Farms need to get smaller, and ranches need to get bigger. If you want to retire in security, you have a vested interest in healthy landscapes.

How do we invest as if our grandchildren mattered? How do we ground investing in ecology, and what human activity is restraining nature from building wealth? This and much more in the conversation with Chris.



Chris used band-aid measures to stabilise eroding soils, then focused on building biodiversity and fireproofing.

”When I had my challenge, when I saw these eroding soils, I said, well, I’ll use a band-aid measure, because if we can stabilise the soils, we can then pursue the academic debate of what we want to do with it. But if we don’t have soil, we can’t have that debate. So that’s why I resorted to band-aid measures. And I did this with the blessing of the department at the time. So, we got photo monitoring sites, which we established. And we started annual monitoring […] Once we stabilise the soils, well, there were two other challenges and that is fireproof, and build biodiversity.” Chris Henggeler


Chris reflects on their experience with macro- and micro-herd management, highlighting the importance of understanding the interconnectedness of nature.

”Back in the 50s and 60s, when dad had his little farm in southern Africa, he was using herds for conservation purposes and was winning land care trophies, but he wasn’t making money with the cattle. Now he solved that dilemma by having photographic tourism to support his land care efforts. And our neighbours who were making money with cattle weren’t winning any trophies for the land care. So, when we left Rhodesia, we realised there was something that just didn’t match.” Chris Henggeler

”That’s why I found it very important to try and understand as much as possible about what’s going on underground. […] So, the macro herd management, I thank Allan Savory for. Then, in 1999, I found out about e-learning, and the micro herds underneath the soil, and how the grass farming actually feeds the micro herds. And that really helped me, I was able to move forward with confidence. But then I was also able to compare notes with other people, thanks to the internet.” Chris Henggeler


Chris suggests using new megafauna (e.g., kangaroos, elephants) to perform tasks similar to those of extinct megafauna.

”Can we put the megafauna to work to perform the tasks that the extinct megafauna would have performed, and I don’t think we need to be rangelands, scientists, or vets […] Although we’ve got totally different continents, wetland systems on different continents basically function the same; forest systems on different continents basically function the same; and savanna systems on different continents basically function the same. […] We have the opportunity for pastoralism to rebuild Australia’s ecological foundations, which were significantly impaired when the megafauna disappeared thousands of years ago.”

Chris Henggeler


Chris advocates for investing in nature to secure future generations.

”If you wish for retirement insecurity and old age, you have a vested interest in healthy landscapes. […] People like Savory have been saying this for decades: that poor land will eventually lead to conflict and violence. And what I’m seeing here in Northern Australia, by the time these problems reach the city limits, it’s going to be game over. So, if you’re comfortable in the cities, you need to have an interest in what’s happening out there, and I actually think that investment in healthy landscapes and in rehydrating the continent would be a cheap insurance policy for the one percenters, and it would provide an awful lot of work, or… I’m not talking about providing jobs; what I’m saying is that you’re creating incentives for self-starters to really kickstart the economy from the bottom up and leave a legacy for the next generation.” Chris Henggeler

”We make a decision with our own children when we say, oh, we’re going to send them to good schools or teach them to be civilised humans. There’s an investment in time and money there, and the return is, well, hopefully security in old age, and they pass that on, and that’s how nature works. […] So, it’s bringing that investment, thinking back, or grounding the investment thinking in our ecology or in our futures. That’s probably the message or the seed that I’d like to plant.” Chris Henggeler


Koen and Chris also talked about:

  • The function of the herbivore in a semi dry country is the gardener, mulching
  • The work chris and others are doing is relatively new
  • Farms need to get smaller and ranches need to get bigger
  • Big myth: many animals damage the land
  • Rehydrating landscapes
  • Grounding investing in ecology
  • Human activity is restraining nature from building wealth
  • Symbiosis outranks competition, competition is necessary for health, symbiosis is essential for survival



Here below a document Chris put together around our conversation explaining more about Kachana Station, the vision behind it and all the key elements of the management or custodianship responsibility.


Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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