Permaculture II: Ethics, Principles and Aptitudes

Part II: Ethics, Principles and Aptitudes
Following on from our previous article, Lucho Iglesias continues his explanation of Permaculture, looking at the principles and guidelines that inspire and orientate us to help create a lasting culture for our environment and at a social level. 
The most important part of this series is that it makes sense and touches the soul in such a way that it motivates you to start working. Obviously these are not strict guidelines to follow, as at the time of designing a permaculture space there is always room to innovate and to create new possibilities with the inspiring goal of reaching sustainability.

CARE OF THE EARTH. The Earth represents all of Nature. We come from soil, live from it and later or sooner we go back to it. It is important that we take care of all life systems (animals, plants, soil, water, air, etc) for them to continue their cycles in space and time. The Earth is much more than something useful, it is the symbol of life.
CARE OF PEOPLE. Sensitivity to the needs of people; individual and group work for everybody to be able to gain access to the necessary resources to enjoy a decent life. Individual commitment and individual responsibility. Since we are born we are with a human group, we are all connected, the balance of society is based in giving and receiving.
EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION. To give out everything that exceeds of our real needs (work, money, information), working towards a higher purpose and more spiritual approach to our lives.

TO WORK WITH NATURE NOT AGAINST IT. To allow natural processes instead of practicing karate by hitting Nature until it is dominated. It is more about doing Aikido, about flowing with adverse forces and becoming one organism. For example, instead of removing weeds learn their uses and benefits, or use a biological control (living) instead of fertilizers, or use renewable resourses.
THE PROBLEM IS THE SOLUTION. Everything works in different directions, what may seem a problem may also contain the solution. For example there is a plague of South American ants in the Mediterranean area which is bad in certain aspects but also has advantages to protect wooden infrastructures from termites. Anther example, the wind may be problematic in some areas but it can also become a source of renewable energy.
MINIMUM CHANGE FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT. We will try to do activities that create the minimum negative impact and the maximum positive effects in the long term. For example if we have to use non-renewable energies at the beginning of setting up a system, over time we will look for renewable energies to substitute them.
PERFORMANCE OF A SYSTEM IS THEORICALLY UNLIMITED. The performance limits of any system that we set up are based on the information that we have and on our imagination. For example in an edible forest we can always add new elements to increase its richness, by placing birds boxes to attract beneficial birds.
EVERYTHING AFFECTS EVERYTHING. In ecosystems all elements are connected. If we can recognise this it can be very useful. For example spontaneous flora and fauna have very important functions for our system, and so we will look for strategies to increase their presence.
PLANNING ZONES. Set up all the different elements according to their capacity of use and frecuency of need.
PLANNING SECTORS. Sectors are the energies that come from outside and that cross our system. We set them up for the energies to be beneficial.
RELATIVE LOCATION. Each element (structures, plants, animals) is set up in relation to the rest in such a way that they are supported.
EACH NECESSITY IS SUPPORTED BY MANY ELEMENTS. Basic necessities like water, food, energy, protection against fire,etc… must be covered in two or more ways.
EACH ELEMENT HAS MANY FUNCTIONS. Each element of the system can be choosen and set up in such a way that it has as many functions as possible.
USE OF BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES. We can use natural systems to do the work, for example geese to cut the grass.
CYCLE ENERGY. A good design uses the natural energies that enter the system as well as the regional ones.
DIVERSITY. This determines the dynamic of a system; its importance is not based on the number of elements but on the number of functional connections.
NATURAL SUCCESION. Natural systems change with time; the idea is to take advantage of that natural process and to speed it up.
TO MAXIMIZE ECOTONE. In Nature the interphase between two means has special characteristics, we can design taking advantage of that.
NATURAL PATTERNS. Nature reveals complex patterns and plans. There are mathematical and energy-saving reasons behind these patterns. If we study how and why they work we can use them in our designs and to our benefits.
In the next few articles I will be explaining practical aspects of these principles with applied examples to get you started on a journey of exploration and sustainability.

Lucho Iglesias y Matricia Lana
Permacultura Caña Dulce,
Río Grande, Coín,
For more in this series of articles, please click here

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