How Does Permaculture and the Conservation Movement Get Along?
Although permaculture evolved directly from the conservation movement ideology, some conservationists see permaculture as a threat to the conservation movement. The most frequent argument (especially in Australia) posed is that permaculture is promoting species that are not indigenous to the area. One of the great missions of the last century was to remove people from the wilderness. It was considered that people had no positive place in the wilderness, only potential to be destructive. This might be true for some landscapes with delicate soils and web-of-life. Many Tribal People have been pushed off the land and some wildernesses have suffered from the sudden lack of management.
Permaculture aims always to ensure a fair share of care for people and care for the environment. By encouraging people to farm on land that is close to them, we can reduce pressure on wilderness to be sacrificed for farming.
These conservationists are fighting hard to keep natural areas free of weed seed and this is fully supported by most permaculturalists. As with many walks of life, there are a vast range of people in permaculture AND in the conservation movement.
What are we all eating? Can we meet our needs with purely indigenous plants? In Australia the population is far too high to support the traditional nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Permaculture devotes much of its energies to conserving more than just plants, it conserves vital fresh water, and soil from erosion. We are trying to take the pressure off existing native forests by bringing farms into higher yield and higher diversity.
Permaculture home systems set aside a portion of the system purely for natural species habitat.
Some permaculturalists refuse to use herbicides, some believe that in the short term, herbicide use is justified. Overall permaculture promotes the use of soft technologies and simple readily available techniques FIRST. Some conservationists who like to see control of weeds as fast as possible may get frustrated with permaculture attempts to try natural methods first.
Some permaculturalsts feel that the loss of soil and species is so fast on this planet that if the weeds are prepared to hold it together while we concentrate our efforts on reducing the clearing and over-farming, then we should be grateful.
Permaculture discourages people from moving into healthy natural systems, we do not support the clearing of forests for housing estates, there is enough land cleared already for ‘farming’. Permaculture promotes more sustainable eco-village design with productive natural forests around the homes.
We do not see people as weeds. We respect indigenous people and try to learn from their relationship with nature. We see natural systems as ideal, wholistic production, and we see ourselves as a fruitful part of the system, not as intruders.