Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren
The publication in December 2002 of a new major work on permaculture, saw a deeper and more accessible systematization of the principles of permaculture refined by Holmgren over more than 25 years of practice. The book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability (2002a), is dedicated to Howard T. Odum, who died two months before its publication, and it owes much to Odum's vision of a world in energy transition (Odum and Odum, 2001). 'Principles and Pathways ' offers twelve key permaculture design principles, each explained in separate chapters. This fills a conceptual gap that has been evident from permaculture's inception. It is likely to be seen as a major landmark in the permaculture literature, especially as the seminal work, Bill Mollison's Permaculture: A Designer's Manual (1988) was published fifteen years previously and has never been revised. Holmgren has had a long-standing interest in the use of non-native 'invasive' plants, for food and fibre, but more controversially for ecological restoration and 'ecosynthesis'. This interest in recombinant ecosystems or 'weedscapes' is partly inspired by a 1979 visit to New Zealand and interactions with New Zealand ecologist Haikai Tane (1995). Holmgren's refusal to toe the majority line on introduced and invasive species has led to some ill-informed criticism of permaculture in a debate which is very much alive in the Australian environmental movement (Low, 1998; Grayson, 2003). His recent comments on the value of willow (Salix albaXfragilis) in a Victorian stream corridor for beneficial sediment and phosphorus capture can be construed as 'heretical' in relation to official policy. Holmgren goes so far as to comment, 'The science of ecology provided the overwhelming evidence that everything is connected, so it is a great irony that conservation biology is now dominated by an orthodoxy that is blind to ecosynthesis as nature's way of weaving a new tapestry of life.' (2002a: 265) Holmgren has been developing these and other ideas into a new book, provisionally entitled Weeds or Wild Nature?.
David Holmgren continues to be a controversial figure. As permaculture spreads around the globe, offering a multitude of practical solutions to social and environmental problems, he may yet prove to be one of Australia's most significant environmental proponents
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