Peppi Gauci explores the notion of permaculture as a positive solution towards global sustainable development, ahead of his contribution as a speaker on the CPF 2015 session: Responses to Food Challenges.
How would you define permaculture?
Permaculture is actually two words coined in one. PERManence and Culture. Therefore it means the ability to create permanent cultures. This science is based on observations in nature and strives to maximise those relationships which are symbiotic and efficient in order to design truly sustainable harmonious cultures for humans in balance with a thriving environment, thus also including nature. It is not a rigid application, but rather very flexible and influenced by the elements present in the region which a design is about to be applied in. For example, permaculture can be used to design anything from a building, a garden, a school, or a whole community. It can also be used to create the frame of mind needed to bring forward the understanding of limitations and abundance within ecosystems which will then enable positive changes.In healthy natural systems there is diversification, thus ensuring biodiversity and the ability to retain resilience.
To give you an example, if you look at a natural forest, you will find that there is balance in nature, and that everything is working in a closed loop system with no linear or pollution effects. Anything produced is reused, if a tree dies, it returns to the soil, likewise soil health is maintained, vegetative growth is stacked and follows succession, while the micro climate is regulated with carbon/nitrogen balance and excellent moisture control and water retention. In healthy natural systems there is what you call diversification, thus ensuring biodiversity and the ability to retain resilience.
Our modern societies have got a lot to learn from this. We need to become conscious that we are actually part of nature, and that our actions need to be in tune with the needs of our environment and not just vice versa. This understanding underpins our ability to maintain a balance between what we want as human beings, and what nature can possibly yield without jeopardizing the future’s productivity. In mainstream societies we are very far from this at present, but we honestly have no other choice but change our ways. The sooner we get in gear with this knowledge, the easier it is for the next generation to find their way. Right now, we are over-consuming the earth’s resources at alarming rates, however, permaculture gives us the ability to realize that we can actually be part of the solution and not the problem.
There are many intentional communities and centres around the world that have embraced the permaculture principles and are actually manifesting very good results. I am not talking about tree-hugging scenarios, but of actual life-enhancing examples, with cleaner air and water, productive soils and multiple yields, alternative and very efficient architecture, carbon free energy, greener economies, healthier and happier children and resilient community set ups.
The original article was written by Erika Brincat and first published by the Malta Independent on Sunday. This excerpt has been reproduced with the kind permission of Peppi Gauci. For copyright queries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Permaculture Malta