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  • Appendix D

last modified September 17, 2010 by strypey

Appendix D

The Principles of Permaculture Design (Mollison):

Whereas permaculture ethics are more akin to broad moral values or codes of behavior, the principles of permaculture provide a set of universally applicable guidelines which can be used in designing sustainable habitats. Distilled from multiple disciplines–ecology, energy conservation, landscape design, and environmental science–these principles are inherent in any permaculture design, in any climate, and at any scale. The following is a list of these principles.

1. Relative Location: Components placed in a system are viewed relatively, not in isolation.

2. Functional Relationship between components: Everything is connected to everything else.

3. Recognize functional relationships between elements: Every function is supported by many elements.

4. Redundancy: Good design ensures that all important functions can withstand the failure of one or more element. Design backups.

5. Every element is supported by many functions: Each element we include is a system, chosen and placed so that it performs as many functions as possible.

6. Local Focus: "Think globally - Act locally" Grow your own food, cooperate with neighbors. Community efficiency not self-sufficiency.

7. Diversity: As a general rule, as sustainable systems mature they become increasingly diverse in both space and time. What is important is the complexity of the functional relationships that exist between elements not the number of elements.

8. Use Biological Resources: We know living things reproduce and build up their availability over time, assisted by their interaction with other compatible elements. Use and reserve biological intelligence.

9. One Calorie In/One Calorie Out: Do not consume or export more biomass than carbon fixed by the solar budget.

10. Stocking: Finding the balance of various elements to keep one from overpowering another over time. How much of an element needs to be produced in order to fulfill the need of whole system?

11. Stacking: Multilevel functions for single element (stacking functions). Multilevel garden design, i.e., trellising, forest garden, vines, groundcovers, etc.

12. Succession: Recognize that certain elements prepare the way for systems to support other elements in the future, i.e.: succession planting.

13. Use Onsite Resources: Determine what resources are available and entering the system on their own and maximize their use.

14. Edge Effect: Ecotones are the most diverse and fertile area in a system. Two ecosystems come together to form a third which has more diversity than either of the other two, i.e.: edges of ponds, forests, meadows, currents etc.

15. Energy Recycling: Yields from system designed to supply onsite needs and/or needs of local region.

16. Small Scale: Intensive Systems start small and create a system that is manageable and produces a high yield.

17. Make Least Change for the Greatest Effect: The less change that is generated, the less embedded energy is used to endow the system.

18. Planting Strategy: 1st-natives, 2nd-proven exotics, 3rd unproven exotics - carefully on small scale with lots of observation.

19. Work Within Nature: Aiding the natural cycles results in higher yield and less work. A little support goes a long way.

20. Appropriate Technology: The same principles apply to cooking, lighting, transportation, heating, sewage treatment, water and other utilities.

21. Law of Return: Whatever we take, we must return Every object must responsibly provide for its replacement.

22. Stress and Harmony: Stress here may be defined as either prevention of natural function, or of forced function. Harmony may be defined as the integration of chosen and natural functions, and the easy supply of essential needs.

23. The Problem is the solution: We are the problem, we are the solution. Turn constraints into resources. Mistakes are tools for learning.

24. The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited: The only limit on the number of uses of a resource possible is the limit of information and imagination of designer.

25. Dispersal of Yield Over Time: Principal of seven generations. We can use energy to construct these systems, providing that in their lifetime, they store or conserve more energy that we use to construct them or to maintain them.

26. A Policy of Responsibility (to relinquish power): The role of successful design is to create a self-managed system.

27. Principle of Disorder: Order and harmony produce energy for other uses. Disorder consumes energy to no useful end. Tidiness is maintained disorder. Chaos has form, but is not predictable. The amplification of small fluctuations.

28. Entropy: In complex systems, disorder is an increasing result. Entropy and life-force are a stable pair that maintain the universe to infinity.

29. Metastability: For a complex system to remain stable, there must be small pockets of disorder.

30. Entelechy: Principal of genetic intelligence. i.e. The rose has thorns to protect itself.

31. Observation: Protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor.

32. We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.

33. Wait one year: (See #31, above)

34. Hold water and fertility as high (in elevation) on the landscape as possible. Its all downhill from there.


 Permaculture Activist. An Introduction to Permaculture. . 2010-09-17. URL: Accessed: 2010-09-17. (Archived by WebCite® at