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Permaculture is a sustainable design system

so that within the design there is careful placement of various elements to assist in the efficient use of resources. It has application in many areas from the design of an office system to a farm design.

Its main aim or purpose is to create systems that are ecologically and economically viable, which provide for their own needs, which do not pollute or exploit, and which in the long term are totally sustainable

Permaculture requires the user of its design system to observe natural systems, such as that found within a forest, and combine the wisdoms of traditional methods with modern scientific and technological knowledge.

Its design approach on a farm uses the inherent qualities of plants and animals in combination with the natural characteristics of landscapes and structures to produce a life-supporting system.

A Permaculture farm design aims to produce more human and animal food than is generally found in nature by creating a cultivated ecology.

Beginnings

Permaculture was developed in the 1970's by two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, as a response to pollution of the soil, water and air; the increasing reduction of non-renewable resources; the continued loss of animal and plant species; and exploitive and destructive economic systems.

By using knowledge of plant, animal and social systems, old wisdoms and skills in combination with modern technology and ideas, permaculture was created. Permaculture, unlike other modern agricultural systems, is closely tied in with ecology because it studies the inter-relationships and the inter-dependence of living things and their environment.

Definitions

There are many definitions of permaculture. Earlier definitions talk about permanence within agriculture while more recent definitions concentrate on sustainable human settlements.
One definition taken from Bill Mollison and Rena Mia Slays's book Introduction to Permaculture states:

"Permaculture is about designing sustainable human settlements. It is a philosophy and an approach to land use which weaves together microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, water management, and human needs into intricately connected productive communities."

The ethics of permaculture are: Care for the earth, Care for people, Distribute surplus, Reduce consumption.
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