Permaculture is often described as a way of seeing and thinking about the world which incorporates a diverse "toolbox" of technologies to the design of sustainable and regenerative habitats for life. Such a broad idea has been further broken down into permaculture principles by one of the founders of permaculture David Holmgren.
The idea of the principles is to provide a set of considerations to guide a permaculture designer. These principles can be used as a checklist for a designer to go through and see what improvements can be made to a system.
Although, at first, the complexity of these principles coupled with the broad objective of permaculture designs can make daunting, with practise and familiarity a new way of seeing the world emerges, often described as the "permaculture lens."
Twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability:
- Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
- Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
- Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
- Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
- Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
- Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
- Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
- Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
- Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
- Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.