Permaculture Ethics & Principles


"The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children."  Bill Mollison

Earth Care
Care of the Earth
Rebuild natural capital by working with natural systems rather than in competition with them.
The Earth is a living, breathing entity which we need to take care of with all life forms being respected for their own intrinsic value.
For example: buying local produce; cycling rather than driving; opposing the destruction of wild habitats; designing and creating healthy systems that meet our needs without damaging the planet.
People Care
Care of People
Look after self, kin and community by focussing on the positives and the opportunities rather than any obstacles. 
Focussing on non-material well-being for ourselves and others and working together can bring about the best outcomes for all involved.
For example: redesigning our unsustainable systems and replacing them with sustainable one eg. efficient, accessible public transport or bringing people together to encourage sustainability
Fair Share
Setting limits to Population and Consumption

Set limits and redistribute surplus. Find the right balance in our own lives and share our bounty. One planet living - recognising the Earth's resources are limited and that these resources need to be shared amongst all beings and future generations.  
Thinking tools that allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviours in a world of less energy and resources, when used together.
1. Observe & Interact
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

Observing nature can help us design solutions for any situation.  Taking different perspectives helps understand what is going on with the various elements in any system.
2. Catch & store energy
"Make hay while the sun shines"
Collect resources when they are abundant so they can be used in times of need. Plants capturing the energy of the sun and turning that into complex carbohydrates drives the whole planet's ecosystem.  We need to find a way to rebuild this 'natural capital' for a sustainable future eg. catching energy in dams; passive solar techniques; preserved fruit, wines, etc.
3. Obtain a yield
"You won't work on an empty stomach"
Self-reliance is the ability to meet many of our own needs from our own resources rather than relying on global food systems or global energy companies. It needs to be a long-term approach where incremental improvements are made over time. When our yield is abundant we then share that with others. 
4. Apply self-regulation & accept feedback

"The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation"
Self-regulation ensures that systems can continue to function by discouraging inappropriate activity.  Be aware that feedback can sometimes be slow to emerge. Self-regulation always includes taking the ethics into account with self-maintaining systems being the pinnacle of permaculture design e.g. forest gardens where ground cover suppresses weeds; nitrogen fixers replace chemical fertilisers and perennials/self-seeding plants reduce annual planting.
5. Use & value renewable resources & services
"Let nature take it's course"
Use nature's abundance to help reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources whilst also restoring or recreating lost habitats and improving soil quality. Reconnecting with nature's abundance so we don't overuse resource e.g.. balancing using trees for fuel against trees needed to maintain a woodland habitat. Reducing consumptive behaviour would also be beneficial.
6. Produce no waste
"A stitch in time saves nine." 
"Waste not, want not"
Valuing all the resources available to us.  Seeing waste as an unused output e.g. kitchen waste -> compost -> grow crops/reduce need for external compost/increased yields due to better soil, more worms versus kitchen waste -> landfill needing transport-> produce methane. Making full use of those resources means nothing goes to waste e.g.. refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, repair <- re-design.
7. Design from patterns to details
"Can't see the forest for the trees"
Observing patterns in nature and society can form the backbone of our designs but make sure to step back and see the 'big picture' with the help of the permaculture ethics. Zoning is a design method which can help generate an overall pattern and sector analysis (sun, wind, wildlife, etc.) is another one which shows how energy flows through a site.
8. Integrate rather than segregate
"Many hands make light work"
The right things in the right place allow relationships to develop and support to grow between them. A healthy, vibrant ecosystem is a mass of connections and relationships. Create integrated systems where all different functions and yields of an element are utilised eg. chickens produce eggs but can also provide pest control, tillage, feathers, heat, manure, etc. Create good connections between different parts of the system (relative location) eg. herbs next to the back door
9. Use small & slow solutions
"The bigger they are, the harder they fall"
"Slow and steady wins the race"
Small and slow systems make better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes than big ones. Small scale solutions are more likely to be adaptive to local needs, respectful of nature and consequences of actions are more visible. 
10. Use & value diversity
"Don't put all your eggs in one basket"
Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and offers insurance against the variations of the environment in which it resides e.g.. a healthy orchard will contain early flowering, late flowering, eater,s cookers so that if an early frost gets some others will create food.  Always include a 'zone 5' - a wild area left it nature to promote diversity.
11. Use edges & value the marginal
"Don't think you are on the right track just because it's a well-beaten path"
The most interesting events take place in the interface between things where often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the systems exist. 'Ecotone' is the place where two eco-systems meets (woodland and meadow) and is generally more productive and richer in the variety of species present than either habitat on its own. So design to maximise or increase the edges.
12. Creatively use & respond to change
"Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be"
Carefully observing and intervening at the right time can have a positive impact on inevitable change. We are in control of how we think and react to change. 

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