When it comes to conservation and environmentalism, it’s the little things that matter the most. Not everyone can make sweeping trips to a foreign jungle to rescue endangered monkeys or trawl the depths of the ocean protecting precious coral reefs. Valuable as they both are to the future of the planet, most of us aren’t in a position to do such things. But that just makes it all the more important that we take advantage of those things we can do in our own homes to contribute our part to preserving the environment for the future.
Permaculture is one such field that blends elements of conservation with agriculture and garden design. A multi-faceted discipline originally coined in the 1970’s by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, it was explained as “a philosophy of working with, rather than against, nature”.
The idea is to develop a natural site such that it is able to sustain itself and the humans who depend upon it. This is done by ensuring that everything placed in the garden or plot of land is there for a purpose that is not only limited to its use for humans.
For example, in traditional agriculture, what is planted or raised where is determined primarily by human and economy desire, with natural plants and animals removed from the site in favour of this single purpose. By contrast, in permaculture a wider variety of plants and animals are used on the land and everything is there for a purpose. For example, a fruit tree would be selected not only for its fruit baring abilities, but also the shade it provides for other creatures and plants in the localized ecosystem.
Permaculture, as a port-manteaux of the words Permanent and Culture, emphasises sustainability and fairness at its heart. Resources are finite and thus must be managed to the benefit of all the people and creatures living in the eco-system with a view towards ensuring they remain productive for the long term.
Conservation and Permaculture
Like all conservation, Permaculture is as much about ethics and morality as it is about say, energy efficient housing or garden design. It emphasizes co-operation between individuals for the common good to ensure that the land being managed can provide for all.
Of course, not everyone is ready or willing to drop everything and move to a community in the remote Welsh valleys to raise organic goats, but even for the less ambitious conservationist who still wants to do a bit more for the environment, Perma-cultural ideas and principles provide a solid foundation for acting more responsibility towards the planet. For example, by populating your garden with domestic species you help to maintain natural eco-systems.
So if you’re looking to do a bit more of the local environment give Permaculture a try. If you need to get started, consider an online course in Permaculture from ADL. Because helping globally starts locally.