Introduction to Permaculture
Characteristics of Permaculture
Ethics of Permaculture
Holmgren's Principles of Permaculture
Mollison's Principles of Permaculture Design
About This Document
Permaculture Students digging contour
infiltration channels at Half Moon Bay, Ca
from documents created by Steve Diver for
Appropriate Technology Transfer to Rural Areas (ATTRA)
P.O. Box 3657 Fayetteville, AR 72702 1-800-346-9140
- FAX: (501) 442-9842
and Albert Bates' Permaculture Page
the Permaculture Design Manual by Bill Mollison)
The great oval of the design represents
the egg of life; that quantity of life which cannot be created
or destroyed, but from within which all things that live are expressed.
Within the egg is coiled the rainbow snake, the Earth-shaper of
Australian and American aboriginal peoples. Within the body of
the Serpent is contained
the tree of life, which itself expresses the general pattern of
life forms. Its roots are in earth, and its crown in rain, sunlight
and wind. Elemental forces and flows, shown external to the oval,
represent the physical environment, the sun, and the matter of
the universe; the materials from which life on earth is formed.
rainbow snake symbol is trademarked by Bill Mollison. Artist:
The word "permaculture" was coined and popularized in
the mid 70's by David Holmgren, a young Australian ecologist,
and his associate / professor, Bill Mollison. It is a contraction
of "permanent agriculture" or "permanent culture." Permaculture
is about designing ecological human habitats and food production
systems. It is a land use and community building movement which
strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate,
annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable,
productive communities. The focus is not on these elements themselves,
but rather on the relationships created among them by the way
we place them in the landscape. This synergy is further enhanced
by mimicking patterns found in nature.
central theme in permaculture is the design of ecological landscapes
that produce food. Emphasis is placed on multi-use plants,
cultural practices such as sheet mulching and trellising, and
the integration of animals to recycle nutrients and graze weeds.
However, permaculture entails much more than just food production.
Energy-efficient buildings, waste water treatment, recycling,
and land stewardship in general are other important components
has expanded its purview to include economic and social structures
that support the evolution and development of more permanent communities,
such as co-housing projects and eco-villages. As such, permaculture
design concepts are applicable to urban as well as rural settings,
and are appropriate for single households as well as whole farms
and villages. "Integrated farming" and "ecological engineering"
are terms sometimes used to describe permaculture, with "cultivated
ecology" perhaps coming the closest.
Holmgren: Born in Fremantle, Western Australia.
His interests gravitated towards ecology-agriculture and landscape
design. A close association over two years with Bill Mollison
produced an incredible garden and the manuscript which became
Permaculture One. Following graduation in Environmental Design
in 1976 David expanded his practical skills through building,
gardening and bush living.
Since then work as a designer and teacher has involved him in
projects all over Australia, Europe, the Mid East, Africa and
elsewhere. He has written several more books, developed properties
using permaculture principles, conducted many workshops and courses.
He has consulted and supervised on urban and rural projects in
Australia and New Zealand.
the growing and international permaculture movement, David is
respected for his commitment to presenting permaculture ideas
through practical projects and teaching by personal example, that
a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic, attractive and powerful
alternative to dependent consumerism.
home (Hepburn Permaculture Gardens in central Victoria) with his
partner, Su Dennett, David is the vegetable gardener, silviculturalist,
builder and general fix it man. The Fryers Forest Ecovillage,
also in central Victoria, has been his prime focus in recent years,
where he performed many roles including planner and project manager.
As well as constant involvement in the practical side of permaculture,
David is passionate about the philosophical and conceptual foundations
for sustainability which are the focus of his new book PERMACULTURE:
Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability.
can also review his introductory PDF, The
Essence of Permaculture.
in the small fishing village of Stanley, Tasmania, Australia,
he left school at the age of 15 to help run the family bakery.
Between then and 1954, he held a variety of jobs including seaman,
shark fisherman, mill-worker, trapper, tractor driver and glass
blower. He spent nine years in the Wildlife Survey Section of
government research organization followed by field work with the
Inland Fisheries Commission. In 1968, he became a tutor at the
University of Tasmania and was eventually made senior lecturer
in environmental psychology. He has published works on the history
and genealogy of the Tasmania Aborigines and on the lower vertebrates
of Tasmania. In 1978, he gave up his post at the University, and
with a group of other adults and children, founded the Tagari
Community in Stanley. He has written the
and voluminous Permaculture
Design manual drawn from years of research into the human
organism and its interaction with bioregions.
From Bill Mollison:
Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable
the Permaculture Drylands Institute, published in The Permaculture
Activist (Autumn 1989): Permaculture: the use of ecology
as the basis for designing integrated systems of food
production, housing, appropriate technology, and community development.
Permaculture is built upon an ethic of caring for the earth and
interacting with the environment in mutually beneficial ways.
"As a system of design, Permaculture provides a new vocabulary
language for observation and action, attention and
listening, that empowers people to co-design homes, neighborhoods,
and communities full of truly abundant food, energy, habitat,
water, income, and yields enough to share." Keith Johnson, editor/writer/webguy
for the Permaculture Activist, Director of Alliance for a Post-Petroleum
Local Economy - Bloomington, IN (APPLE), previously director /
founder of Sonoma County Permaculture.
Barnes (former editor of Katuah Journal and Permaculture Connections),
Waynesville, North Carolina:
Permaculture (PERMAnent agriCULTURE or PERMAnent CULTURE)
is a sustainable design system stressing the harmonious interrelationship
of humans, plants, animals and the Earth. To paraphrase
the founder of permaculture, designer Bill Mollison: Permaculture
principles focus on thoughtful designs for small-scale intensive
systems which are labor efficient and which use biological resources
instead of fossil fuels. Designs stress ecological connections
and closed energy and material loops. The core of permaculture
is design and the working relationships and connections between
all things. Each component in a system performs multiple functions,
and each function is supported by many elements. Key to efficient
design is observation and replication of natural ecosystems, where
designers maximize diversity with polycultures, stress efficient
energy planning for houses and settlement, using and accelerating
natural plant succession, and increasing the highly productive
"edge-zones" within the system.
From Michael Pilarski, founder of Friends of the Trees, published
in International Green Front Report (1988):
Permaculture is: the design of land use systems that are
sustainable and environmentally sound; the design of
culturally appropriate systems which lead to social stability;
a design system characterized by an integrated application of
ecological principles in land use; an international movement for
land use planning and design; an ethical system stressing positivism
and cooperation. In the broadest sense, permaculture refers to
land use systems which promote stability in society, utilize resources
in a sustainable way and preserve wildlife habitat and the genetic
diversity of wild and domestic plants and animals. It is a synthesis
of ecology and geography, of observation and design. Permaculture
involves ethics of earth care because the sustainable use of land
cannot be separated from lifestyles and philosophical issues.
From a Bay Area Permaculture Group brochure, published in West
Coast Permaculture News & Gossip and Sustainable Living Newsletter
(Fall 1995): Permaculture is a practical concept which
can be applied in the city, on the farm, and in the wilderness.
Its principles empower people to establish highly productive environments
providing for food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material
needs, including economic. Carefully observing natural patterns
characteristic of a particular site, the permaculture designer
gradually discerns optimal methods for integrating water catchment,
human shelter, and energy systems with tree crops, edible and
useful perennial plants, domestic and wild animals and aquaculture.
Permaculture adopts techniques and principles from ecology, appropriate
technology, sustainable agriculture, and the wisdom of indigenous
peoples. The ethical basis of permaculture rests upon care of
the earth-maintaining a system in which all life can thrive. This
includes human access to resources and provisions, but not the
accumulation of wealth, power, or land beyond their needs.
From Robyn Francis: Permaculture encourages the restoration
of balance to our environment through the practical application
of ecological principles. In the broadest sense, Permaculture
refers to land-use systems, including human settlements, which
utilize resources in a sustainable way. From a philosophy of cooperation
with nature and each other, of caring for the earth and people,
it presents an approach to designing environments which have the
diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems, to
regenerate damaged land and preserve environments which are still
Permaculture is a practical concept applicable from a balcony
to the farm, from the city to the wilderness, enabling us to establish
productive environments providing our food, energy, shelter, material
and non-material needs, as well as the social and economic infrastructures
that support them.
Permaculture is a synthesis of ecology and geography, observation
and design. Permaculture encompasses all aspects of human environments
and culture, urban and rural, and their local and global impact.
It involves ethics of earth care because the sustainable use of
land and resources cannot be separated from lifestyle and philosophical
Permaculture draws from the wisdoms of sustainable indigenous
and traditional cultures and synthesises these with contemporary
earth and design sciences. Permaculture is growing and being constantly
enriched by the experiments, insights, creativity and experience
of the individuals and communities that practice it. Permaculture
is design - a conscious process involving the placement and planning
of elements, things and processes in relationship to each other.
As such it is a way of thinking, and it is our thought patterns
that determine our actions, so permaculture becomes a way of living.
is one of the most holistic, integrated systems analysis and design
methodologies found in the world.
can be applied to create productive ecosystems from the human-
use standpoint or to help degraded ecosystems recover health
can be applied in any ecosystem, no matter how degraded.
values and validates traditional knowledge and experience.
incorporates sustainable agriculture practices and land management
techniques and strategies from around the world.
is a bridge between traditional cultures and emergent earth-tuned
promotes organic agriculture which does not use pesticides to
pollute the environment.
aims to maximize symbiotic and synergistic relationships between
is urban planning as well as rural land design.
design is site specific, client specific, and culture specific.
Michael (ed.) 1994. Restoration Forestry. Kivaki Press, Durango,
CO. pp. 450.
Practical Application of Permaculture is not limited to plant
and animal agriculture, but also includes community planning
and development, use of appropriate technologies (coupled with
an adjustment of lifestyle), and adoption of concepts and philosophies
that are both earth-based and people-centered, such as bioregionalism.
Many of the appropriate technologies advocated by permaculturists
are well known. Among these are solar and wind power, composting
toilets, solar greenhouses, energy efficient housing, and solar
food cooking and drying. Due to the inherent sustainability of
perennial cropping systems, permaculture places a heavy emphasis
on tree crops. Systems that integrate annual and perennial crops-such
as alley cropping and agroforestry-take advantage of "the edge
effect," increase biological diversity, and offer other characteristics
missing in mono- culture systems. Thus, multicropping systems
that blend woody perennials and annuals hold promise as viable
techniques for large-scale farming. Ecological methods of production
for any specific crop or farming system (e.g., soil building practices,
biological pest control, composting) are central to permaculture
as well as to sustainable agriculture in general.
permaculture is not a production system, per se, but rather a
land use and community planning philosophy, it is not
limited to a specific method of production. Furthermore, as permaculture
principles may be adapted to farms or villages worldwide, it is
site specific and therefore amenable to locally adapted techniques
of production. As an example, standard organic farming and gardening
techniques utilizing cover crops, green manures, crop rotation,
and mulches are emphasized in permacultural systems. However,
there are many other options and technologies available to sustainable
farmers working within a permacultural framework (e.g., chisel
plows, no-till implements, spading implements, compost turners,
rotational grazing). The decision as to which "system" is employed
is site-specific and management dependent.
systems and techniques commonly associated with permaculture include
agro- forestry, swales, contour plantings, Keyline agriculture
(soil and water management), hedgerows and windbreaks, and integrated
farming systems such as pond-dike aquaculture, aquaponics, intercropping,
and polyculture. Gardening and recycling methods common
to permaculture include edible landscaping, keyhole gardening,
companion planting, trellising, sheet mulching, chicken tractors,
solar greenhouses, spiral herb gardens, swales, and vermicomposting.
Water collection, management, and reuse systems like Keyline,
greywater, rain catchment, constructed wetlands, aquaponics (the
integration of hydroponics with recirculating aquaculture), and
solar aquatic ponds (also known as Living Machines) play an important
role in permaculture designs.
Ethics of Permaculture:
is unique among alternative farming systems (e.g., organic, sustainable,
eco-agriculture, biodynamic) in that it works with a set of ethics
that suggest we think and act responsibly in relation to each
other and the earth. The ethics of permaculture provide
a sense of place in the larger scheme of things, and serve as
a guidepost to right livelihood in concert with the global community
and the environment, rather than individualism and indifference.
Care of the Earth ...includes all living and non-living things–
plants, animals, land, water and air
Care of People ...promotes self-reliance and community responsibility–
access to resources necessary for existence
3. Setting Limits to Population & Consumption ...gives away
surplus– contribution of surplus time, labor, money, information,
and energy to achieve the aims of earth and people care.
also acknowledges a basic life ethic, which recognizes the intrinsic
worth of every living thing. A tree has value in itself,
even if it presents no commercial value to humans. That the tree
is alive and functioning is worthwhile. It is doing its part in
nature: recycling litter, producing oxygen, sequestering carbon
dioxide, sheltering animals, building soils, and so on.
Holmgren's Principles for Permaculture Design
Can also be viewed at: http://www.holmgren.com.au/html/Writings/Writings.html.
principles are brief statements or slogans that can be remembered
as a checklist when considering the complex options for design
and evolution of ecological support systems. These principles
can be seen as universal, although the methods that express them
will vary greatly according to place and situation. Fundamentally,
permaculture design principles arise from a way of perceiving
the world that is often described as 'systems thinking' and 'design
OBSERVE AND INTERACT
2. CAPTURE & STORE ENERGY
3. GET A YIELD
4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK
5. USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES
6. PRODUCE NO WASTE
7. DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS
8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE
9. USE SMALL AND SLOW SOLUTIONS
10. USE AND VALUE DIVERSITY
11. USE EDGES AND VALUE THE MARGINAL
12. CREATIVELY USE AND RESPOND TO CHANGE
1: OBSERVE AND INTERACT
design depends on a free and harmonious relationship between nature
and people, in which careful observation and thoughtful interaction
provide the design inspiration, repertoire and patterns. It is
not something that is generated in isolation, but through continuous
and reciprocal interaction with the subject.
more conservative and socially bonded agrarian communities, the
ability of some individuals to stand back from, observe and interpret
both traditional and modern methods of land use, is a powerful
tool in evolving new and more appropriate systems. While complete
change within communities is always more difficult for a host
of reasons, the presence of locally evolved models, with its roots
in the best of traditional and modern ecological design, is more
likely to be successful than a pre-designed system introduced
from outside. Further, a diversity of such local models would
naturally generate innovative elements which can cross-fertilise
similar innovations elsewhere.
2: CATCH AND STORE ENERGY
live in a world of unprecedented wealth resulting from the harvesting
of the enormous storages of fossil fuels created by the earth
over billions of years. We have used some of this wealth
to increase our harvest of the Earth's renewable resources to
an unsustainable degree. Most of the adverse impacts of this over-harvesting
will show up as available fossil fuels decline. In financial language,
we have been living by consuming global capital in a reckless
manner that would send any business bankrupt.
concepts of wealth have led us to ignore opportunities to capture
local flows of both renewable and non-renewable forms of energy.
Identifying and acting on these opportunities can provide the
energy with which we can rebuild capital, as well as provide us
with an"income" for our immediate needs.
of the sources of energy include:
* Sun, wind and runoff water flows
* Wasted resources from agricultural, industrial and commercial
most important storages of future value include:
* Fertile soil with high humus content
* Perennial vegetation systems, especially trees, yield food
and other useful resources
* Water bodies and tanks
* Passive solar buildings
3: OBTAIN A YIELD
previous principle focused our attention on the need to use existing
wealth to make long-term investments in natural capital. But there
is no point in attempting to plant a forest for the grandchildren
if we haven't got enough to eat today.
principle reminds us that we should design any system to provide
for self-reliance at all levels (including ourselves), by using
captured and stored energy effectively to maintain the system
and capture more energy.
immediate and truly useful yields, whatever we design and develop
will tend to wither while elements that do generate immediate
yield will proliferate. Whether we attribute it to nature, market
forces or human greed, systems that most effectively obtain a
yield, and use it most effectively to meet the needs of survival,
tend to prevail over alternatives.
4: APPLY SELF-REGULATION AND ACCEPT FEEDBACK
principle deals with self-regulatory aspects of permaculture design
that limit or discourage inappropriate growth or behavior. With
better understanding of how positive and negative feedbacks work
in nature, we can design systems that are more self-regulating,
thus reducing the work involved in repeated and harsh corrective
and regulating systems might be said to be the 'Holy Grail' of
permaculture: an ideal that we strive for but might never fully
achieve. Much of this is achieved by application of the Integration
and Diversity (Permaculture design principles 8 & 10) but
it is also fostered by making each element within a system as
self-reliant as is energy efficient. A system composed of self-reliant
elements is more robust to disturbance. Use of tough, semi-wild
and self-reproducing crop varieties and livestock breeds, instead
of highly bred and dependent ones is a classic permaculture strategy
that exemplifies this principle. On a larger scale, self-reliant
farmers were once recognized as the basis of a strong and independent
country. Today's globalize economies make for greater instability
where effects cascade around the world. Rebuilding self-reliance
at both the element and system level increases resilience.
5: USE AND VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES AND SERVICES
resources are those that are renewed and replaced by natural processes
over reasonable periods, without the need for major non-renewable
inputs. In the language of business, renewable resources should
be seen as our sources of income, while non-renewable resources
can be thought of as capital assets. Spending our capital assets
for day-to-day living is unsustainable in anyone's language. Permaculture
design should aim to make best use of renewable natural resources
to manage and maintain yields, even if some use of non-renewable
resources is needed in establishing systems.
services (or passive functions) are those we gain from plants,
animals and living soil and water, without them being consumed.
For example, when we use a tree for wood we are using a renewable
resource, but when we use a tree for shade and shelter, we gain
benefits from the living tree that are non-consuming and require
no harvesting energy. This simple understanding is obvious and
yet powerful in redesigning systems where many simple functions
have become dependent on non-renewable and unsustainable resource
6: PRODUCE NO WASTE
principle brings together traditional values of frugality and
care for material goods, the modern concern about pollution, and
the more radical perspective that sees wastes as resources and
opportunities. The earthworm is a suitable icon for this principle
because it lives by consuming plant litter (wastes), which it
converts into humus that improves the soil environment for itself,
for soil micro-organisms, and for the plants. Thus the earthworm,
like all living things, is a part of a web where the outputs of
one are the inputs for another.
industrial processes that support modern life can be characterized
by an input-output model, in which the inputs are natural materials
and energy, while the outputs are useful things and services.
However, when we step back from this process and take a long-term
view, we can see all these useful things end up as wastes (mostly
in rubbish tips) and that even the most ethereal of services required
the degradation of energy and resources to wastes. This model
might therefore be better characterized as "consume/excrete".
The view of people as simply consumers and excreters might be
biological, but it is not ecological.
7: DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS
first six principles tend to consider systems from the bottom-up
perspective of elements, organisms, and individuals. The second
six principles tend to emphasis the top-down perspective of the
patterns and relationships that tend to emerge by system self-organization
and co-evolution. The commonality of patterns observable in nature
and society allows us to not only make sense of what we see, but
to use a pattern from one context and scale, to design in another.
Pattern recognition is an outcome of the application of Principle
1: Observe and interact, and is the necessary precursor to the
process of design.
idea which initiated permaculture was the forest as a model for
agriculture. While not new, its lack of application and development
across many bioregions and cultures was an opportunity to apply
one of the most common ecosystem models to human land use. Although
many critiques and limitations to the forest model need to be
acknowledged, it remains a powerful example of pattern thinking
which continues to inform permaculture and related concepts, such
as forest gardening, agroforestry and analogue forestry.
use of zones of intensity of use around an activity center such
as a farmhouse to help in the placement of elements and subsystems
is an example of working from pattern to details. Similarly environmental
factors of sun, wind, flood, and fire can be arranged in sectors
around the same focal point. These sectors have both a bioregional
and a site specific character which the permaculture designer
carries in their head to make sense of a site and help organize
appropriate design elements into a workable system.
8: INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE
every aspect of nature, from the internal workings of organisms
to whole ecosystems, we find the connections between things are
as important as the things themselves. Thus the purpose of a functional
and self-regulating design is to place elements in such a way
that each serves the needs and accepts the products of other elements.
principle focuses more closely on the different types of relationships
that draw elements together in more closely integrated systems,
and on improved methods of designing communities of plants, animals
and people to gain benefits from these relationships.
correct placement of plants, animals, earthworks and other infrastructure
it is possible to develop a higher degree of integration and self-regulation
without the need for constant human input in corrective management.
For example, the scratching of poultry under forage forests can
be used to harvest litter to down slope garden systems by appropriate
location. Herbaceous and woody weed species in animal pasture
systems often contribute to soil improvement, biodiversity, medicinal
and other special uses. Appropriate rotationally grazed livestock
can often control these weedy species without eliminating them
and their values completely.
developing an awareness of the importance of relationships in
the design of self-reliant systems, two statements in permaculture
literature and teaching have been central:
1. Each element performs many functions.
2. Each important function is supported by many elements.
connections or relationships between elements of an integrated
system can vary greatly. Some may be predatory or competitive;
others are co-operative, or even symbiotic. All these types of
relationships can be beneficial in building a strong integrated
system or community, but permaculture strongly emphasizes building
mutually beneficial and symbiotic relationships. This is based
on two beliefs:
1. We have a cultural disposition to see and believe in predatory
and competitive relationships, and discount co-operative and
symbiotic relationships, in nature and culture.
2. Co-operative and symbiotic relationships will be more adaptive
in a future of declining energy.
9: USE SMALL AND SLOW SOLUTIONS
should be designed to perform functions at the smallest scale
that is practical and energy-efficient for that function. Human
scale and capacity should be the yardstick for a humane, democratic
and sustainable society.
example, in forestry, fast growing trees are often short lived,
while some apparently slow growing but more valuable species accelerate
and even surpass the fast species in their second and third decades.
A small plantation of thinned and pruned trees can yield more
total value than a large plantation without management.
10: USE AND VALUE DIVERSITY
great diversity of forms, functions and interactions in nature
and humanity are the source of evolved systemic complexity. The
role and value of diversity in nature, culture and permaculture
is itself complex, dynamic, and at times apparently contradictory.
Diversity needs to be seen as a result of the balance and tension
in nature between variety and possibility on the one hand, and
productivity and power on the other.
is now widely recognized that monoculture is a major cause of
vulnerability to pests and diseases, and therefore of the widespread
use of toxic chemicals and energy to control these. Polyculture
(the cultivation of many plant and/or animal species and varieties
within an integrated system) is one of the most important and
widely recognized applications of the use of diversity to reduce
vulnerability to pests, adverse seasons and market fluctuations.
Polyculture also reduces reliance on market systems, and bolsters
household and community self-reliance by providing a wider range
of goods and services.
11: USE EDGES AND VALUE THE MARGINAL
estuaries are a complex interface between land and sea that can
be seen as a great ecological trade market between these two great
domains of life. The shallow water allows penetration of sunlight
for algae and plant growth, as well as providing forage areas
for wading and other birds. The fresh water from catchment streams
rides over the heavier saline water that pulses back and forth
with the daily tides, redistributing nutrients and food for the
every terrestrial ecosystem, the living soil, which may only be
a few centimeters deep, is an edge or interface between non-living
mineral earth and the atmosphere. For all terrestrial life, including
humanity, this is the most important edge of all. Only a limited
number of hardy species can thrive in shallow, compacted and poorly
drained soil, which has insufficient interface. Deep, well-drained
and aerated soil is like a sponge, a great interface that supports
productive and healthy plant life.
principle works from the premise that the value and contribution
of edges, and the marginal and invisible aspects of any system
should not only be recognized and conserved, but that expansion
of these aspects can increase system productivity and stability.
For example, increasing the edge between field and pond can increase
the productivity of both. Alley farming and shelterbelt forestry
can be seen as systems where increasing edge between field and
forest has contributed to productivity.
12: CREATIVELY USE AND RESPOND TO CHANGE
is about the durability of natural living systems and human culture,
but this durability paradoxically depends in large measure on
flexibility and change. Many stories and traditions have the theme
that within the greatest stability lie the seeds of change. Science
has shown us that the apparently solid and permanent is, at the
cellular and atomic level, a seething mass of energy and change,
similar to the descriptions in various spiritual traditions.
acceleration of ecological succession within cultivated systems
is the most common expression of this principle in permaculture
literature and practice, and illustrates the first thread. For
example, the use of fast growing nitrogen fixing trees to improve
soil, and to provide shelter and shade for more valuable slow
growing food trees, reflects an ecological succession process
from pioneers to climax. The progressive removal of some or all
of the nitrogen fixers for fodder and fuel as the tree crop system
matures shows the success. The seed in the soil capable of regeneration
after natural disaster or land use change (e.g. to an annual crop
phase) provides the insurance to re-establish the system in the
Principles of Permaculture Design (Mollison):
permaculture ethics are more akin to broad moral values or codes
of behavior, the principles of permaculture provide a set of universally
applicable guidelines which can be used in designing sustainable
habitats. Distilled from multiple disciplines–ecology, energy
conservation, landscape design, and environmental science–these
principles are inherent in any permaculture design, in any climate,
and at any scale. The following is a list of these principles.
Relative Location: Components placed in a system are viewed relatively,
not in isolation.
Functional Relationship between components: Everything is connected
to everything else.
Recognize functional relationships between elements: Every function
is supported by many elements.
Redundancy: Good design ensures that all important functions can
withstand the failure of one or more element. Design backups.
Every element is supported by many functions: Each element we
include is a system, chosen and placed so that it performs as
many functions as possible.
Local Focus: "Think globally - Act locally" Grow your own food,
cooperate with neighbors. Community efficiency not self-sufficiency.
Diversity: As a general rule, as sustainable systems mature they
become increasingly diverse in both space and time. What is important
is the complexity of the functional relationships that exist between
elements not the number of elements.
Use Biological Resources: We know living things reproduce and
build up their availability over time, assisted by their interaction
with other compatible elements. Use and reserve biological intelligence.
One Calorie In/One Calorie Out: Do not consume or export more
biomass than carbon fixed by the solar budget.
Stocking: Finding the balance of various elements to keep one
from overpowering another over time. How much of an element needs
to be produced in order to fulfill the need of whole system?
Stacking: Multilevel functions for single element (stacking functions).
Multilevel garden design, i.e., trellising, forest garden, vines,
Succession: Recognize that certain elements prepare the way for
systems to support other elements in the future, i.e.: succession
Use Onsite Resources: Determine what resources are available and
entering the system on their own and maximize their use.
Edge Effect: Ecotones are the most diverse and fertile area in
a system. Two ecosystems come together to form a third which has
more diversity than either of the other two, i.e.: edges of ponds,
forests, meadows, currents etc.
Energy Recycling: Yields from system designed to supply onsite
needs and/or needs of local region.
Small Scale: Intensive Systems start small and create a system
that is manageable and produces a high yield.
Make Least Change for the Greatest Effect: The less change that
is generated, the less embedded energy is used to endow the system.
Planting Strategy: 1st-natives, 2nd-proven exotics, 3rd unproven
exotics - carefully on small scale with lots of observation.
Work Within Nature: Aiding the natural cycles results in higher
yield and less work. A little support goes a long way.
Appropriate Technology: The same principles apply to cooking,
lighting, transportation, heating, sewage treatment, water and
Law of Return: Whatever we take, we must return Every object must
responsibly provide for its replacement.
Stress and Harmony: Stress here may be defined as either prevention
of natural function, or of forced function. Harmony may be defined
as the integration of chosen and natural functions, and the easy
supply of essential needs.
The Problem is the solution: We are the problem, we are the solution.
Turn constraints into resources. Mistakes are tools for learning.
The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited: The only limit
on the number of uses of a resource possible is the limit of information
and imagination of designer.
Dispersal of Yield Over Time: Principal of seven generations.
We can use energy to construct these systems, providing that in
their lifetime, they store or conserve more energy that we use
to construct them or to maintain them.
A Policy of Responsibility (to relinquish power): The role of
successful design is to create a self-managed system.
Principle of Disorder: Order and harmony produce energy for other
uses. Disorder consumes energy to no useful end. Tidiness is maintained
disorder. Chaos has form, but is not predictable. The amplification
of small fluctuations.
Entropy: In complex systems, disorder is an increasing result.
Entropy and life-force are a stable pair that maintain the universe
Metastability: For a complex system to remain stable, there must
be small pockets of disorder.
Entelechy: Principal of genetic intelligence. i.e. The rose has
thorns to protect itself.
Observation: Protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted
and thoughtless labor.
We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.
Wait one year: (See #31, above)
Hold water and fertility as high (in elevation) on the landscape
as possible. Its all downhill from there.