Permaculture Designers Manual



Section 2.14 –

Principle Summary in Permaculture

The Prime Directive of Permaculture

The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children’s.”


Principle of  Cooperation

Cooperation, not competition, is the very basis of future survival and of existing life systems.”


The Ethical Basis of Permaculture



Provision for all life systems to continue and increase.”



Provision for people to access those resources necessary to their existence.”



By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the  above principles.”


Rules of Use of Natural Resources

  • Reduce waste, hence pollution;

  • Thoroughly replace lost minerals;

  • Do a careful energy accounting; and

  • Make a biosodal impact assessment for long term effects on society, and act to buffer or elimirute any negative impacts.


Life Intervention Principle

In chaos lies unparalleled opportunity for imposing creative order.”


Law of Return

Whatever we take, we must return, or Nature demands a return for every gift  received, or the user must pay.”


Directive of Return

Every object must responsibly provide for its replacement. Society must, as a conditions of use, replace an equal or greater resource than that used.”


Set of Ethics on Natural Systems

Implacable and uncompromising opposition to further disturbance of any remaining natural  forests;

Vigorous rehabilitation of degraded and damaged natural systems to a stable state;

Establishment of plant systems for our own use on the least  amount of land we can use for our existence; and

Establishment of plant and animal refuges for rare or threatened species.


The Basic Law of Thermodynamics

(as restated by Wan)

All energy entering an organism, population or eco­system can be accounted for as energy which is stored or leaves. Energy can be transferred from one form to another, but it cannot disappear, or be destroyed, or created. No energy conversion system is ever completely efficient.”

(As stated by Asimov (1970)

‘”The total energy of the universe is constant and the total entropy is increasing.”·


Birch’s Six Principles of Natural Syatems

1.  Nothing in nature grows forever. There is a constant cycle of decay and rebirth.

2.  Continuation of life depends on the main tenance of the global bio-geochemical cycles of essential elements, in particular carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, and phosphorus.

3.  The probability of extinction of populations or a species is greatest when the density is very high or very low. Both crowding and too few individuals of a species may reach thresholds of extinction.

4.  The chance that a species has to survive and reproduce is dependent primarily upon one or two key factors in the complex web of relations of the organism to its environment.

5.  Our ability to change the face of the earth increases at a faster rate than our ability to foresee the consequence of change.

6. Living organisms are not only means but ends. In addition to their instrumental value to humans and other living organisms, they have an intrinsic worth.


Practical Design Considerations

Systems we construct should last as long as possible, and take least maintenance.

Systems, fueled by the sun, should produce not only their own needs, but the needs of the people creating or controlling them. Thus, they are sustainable, as they sustain both themselves and those who construct them.

We can use energy to construct these systems, providing that in their lifetime, they store or conserve more energy than we use to construct them or to maintain them.