Permaculture is a holistic design philosophy that aims to create sustainable human habitats by mimicking the patterns and relationships found in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture is a combination of the words “permanent” and “agriculture,” and was first coined by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s.
Permaculture emphasises the use of observation and design to create sustainable systems that are tailored to the specific needs and conditions of a given site. It is often applied in the context of small-scale, community-based projects, but the principles of permaculture can also be applied to larger-scale commercial and industrial operations.
The core principles of permaculture include:
- Care for the earth: This involves recognising the interdependence of all living things and working to protect and restore the natural environment.
- Care for people: This principle focuses on meeting the basic needs of all people in a way that is fair and equitable.
- Fair share: This principle encourages the responsible use of resources, recognising that there is a limit to how much we can consume without harming the earth or future generations.
Permaculture design incorporates a wide range of techniques and strategies, including:
- Agroforestry: This involves planting a combination of trees, shrubs, and other plants together in a way that mimics natural ecosystems and provides multiple benefits, such as food production, soil improvement, and wildlife habitat.
- Water management: This involves capturing, storing, and using water in an efficient and sustainable way, such as through rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, and earthworks.
- Natural building: This involves using natural, locally-sourced materials to construct homes and other buildings that are energy-efficient, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing.
- Appropriate technology: This involves using simple, low-impact technologies that are appropriate for the local context and that can be easily maintained and repaired by the people who use them.