Principles

Permaculture principles provide a set of universally applicable guidelines that can be used in designing sustainable systems.

These principles are inherent in any permaculture design, in any climate, and at any scale. They have been derived from the thoughtful observation of nature, and from earlier work by ecologists, landscape designers and environmental science.

The principles have recently been reviewed by David Holmgren (one of the co-originators of permaculture) in his book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. We have decided to use this new set as a way of presenting more in-depth information and examples. We make links and connection to previous principles and show how they combine to create a powerful new way to think about our interaction with the world.

The principles encompass those stated in Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison & Reny Mia Slay:

  • Relative location.
  • Each element performs many functions.
  • Each important function is supported by many elements.
  • Efficient energy planning: zone, sector and slope.
  • Using biological resources.
  • Cycling of energy, nutrients, resources.
  • Small-scale intensive systems; including plant stacking and time stacking.
  • Accelerating succession and evolution.
  • Diversity; including guilds.
  • Edge effects.
  • Attitudinal principles: everything works both ways, and permaculture is information and imagination-intensive.

 

and those in Permaculture, a Designers' Manual, by Bill Mollison:   

  • Work with nature rather than against.
  • The problem is the solution.
  • Make the least change for the greatest possible effect.
  • The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited (or only limited by the imagination and information of the designer).
  • Everything gardens (or modifies its environment).

 

This last set of principles, are often referred to as the philosophy behind permaculture.

You can find more resources and views on permaculture principles here.