Thursday, June 30, 2011

Principles of Permaculture

Since its inception, the Principles of Permaculture have undergone refinements.  As Permaculture is about modeling nature, the basic core of Permaculture really cannot change.  Our understanding of nature improves with more observation and research.  As our understanding is refined, so then the guiding Principles of Permacuture are refined. 

Bill Mollison

In 1988, Bill Mollison outlined five Principles of Permaculture in his book Permaculture, a Designers' Manual.  Here they are:
1. Work with nature rather than against (assist, don't fight against, natural development).
2. The problem is the solution (everything can be a positive resource if we know how to utilize it).
3. Make the least change for the greatest possible effect.
4. The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited (yield is only by the information and imagination of the designer).
5. Everything gardens (or has an effect on its environment).

In 1991, Mollison wrote Introduction to PermacultureIn it were twelve Principles of Permaculture.  Some of these were re-statements of the previous five.  However, unfortunately some of these principles were rather vague... they were not readily understandable as a stand alone concept.  Here they are:
1.  Relative location.
2.  Each element performs many functions.
3.  Each important function is supported by many elements.
4.  Efficient energy planning: zone, sector and slope.
5.  Using biological resources.
6.  Cycling of energy, nutrients, resources.
7.  Small-scale intensive systems; including plant stacking and time stacking.
8.  Accelerating succession and evolution.
9.  Diversity; including guilds.
10. Edge effects.
11. Everything works both ways
12. Permaculture is information and imagination-intensive.

David Holmgren

Finally, in 2002, David Holmgren, the co-originator of Permaculture (along with Mollison), restated the Principles of Permaculture in his book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability.  He combined a few of the original principles and added some principles that were "understood" to be basic tenants of Permaculture.  Basically, he simplified the Principles of Permaculture into more user friendly ideas.  Here they are:

Twelve Principles of Permaculture

Every few days, I will highlight one of Holmgren's principles in a post, and expound upon it a bit.  Remember that all Principles of Permaculture are to be used as tools while keeping the Ethics of Permaculture in mind.


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