Aid Projects, Compost, Conservation, Health & Disease, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 4, 2012
In June of this year, SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) won the new UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) ‘Land for Life Award‘ and received $40,000 to support their excellent practical educational work in biologically based sanitation — aka: composting toilets.
Watch the video to hear our good friend John D. Liu of the EEMP tell us all about it.
I’m sure you will all want to join me in congratulating the SOIL team for this fantastic achievement, and in thanking them for their life- and ecology-enhancing efforts. These simple permaculture solutions cost far less and are far more effective than the industrialised world’s high cost approaches (high cost in both economic and ecological terms) and bring important net benefits in soil rehabilitation, phosphorus and other nutrient cycling and food security.
Update: See longer, updated video here.
- Humanure Handbook – Free Download
- When “Eww” Turns to “Ooh!”
- Life at Zaytuna: Closing the Loop
- Phosphorus Matters
- Phosphorus Matters II – Keeping Phosphorus on Farms
Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Jason Gerhardt November 27, 2012
The author scopes out an oyster reef in Pamlico Sound, NC
Photo Credit: Jason Gerhardt
Being a resident of the dryland Western US, I should probably be thinking more about wildfire and drought than storm surge and coastal erosion, but for some reason, I’ve been drawn to the shoreline recently. As I have yet to come across any significant permaculture analysis or design strategy for barrier islands and associated coasts, most of this discussion is drawn from applying permaculture design thinking to other research. My hope is that this article will inspire others to develop and contribute more specific permaculture content for such important ecosystems and communities.
As large hurricanes continually batter the Eastern coast of the United States, causing catastrophic damage and human suffering, it is time to think about how permaculture design applies to human communities in such environments. From 100-year floods to wildland fire to coastal superstorms, modern infrastructure is proving to be insufficiently designed to deal with such destructive forces of nature. As permaculture designers, we attempt to work with nature, harmonizing what we design with natural forces, while using those forces as a resource, patterning after them, pacifying them, or deflecting them.
The inherent nature of barrier islands and associated coastline is one of rapid and constant change — literally a foundation of shifting sands. Constant disturbance is perhaps the antithesis of permaculture (permanent-culture), so the question must be asked: how does permaculture apply in a place like this? Do we attempt to create greater stability or do we work with the changing nature of the place? Or, do we suggest that people shouldn’t be living in such places at all?Comments (4)
Biodiversity, Conservation, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Irrigation, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 20, 2012
Filmmaker and environmentalist, John D. Liu from the Environmental Education Media Project team, takes us to Rwanda again (last time was here), showing us how the country is seeking to leapfrog the disastrous ‘development‘ route most of the countries of the North have gone down, to instead head more directly towards sustainability. Given the horrors this country were awash with during the 1990s, it’s certainly encouraging to see the nation making some good truly forward steps on several fronts.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Population, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by John D. Liu November 17, 2012
Before (below) and after (above), Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabiliation Project
A Breakthough of Worldwide Importance
In 1995, as the Chinese government and people were beginning an ambitious effort to restore the cradle of Chinese civilization, I was asked by the World Bank to document the “Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project”. Originally the Loess Plateau had been fully vegetated with massive forests and grasslands. Resources extracted from the giant forests, rushing rivers, and abundance of the earth in this place blossomed into the magnificence of the Han, the Qin and the Tang dynasties. The accomplishments of the early Chinese dynasties, based in this area, rank among the greatest human scientific and artistic achievements of any age. The Loess Plateau gave birth to the Han race, the largest ethnic group on the planet, and the plateau is generally considered by historians and geographers to be the second place on Earth where human beings began to use settled agriculture.Comments (9)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent November 16, 2012
I was recently invited to contribute to a concept paper (2.2mb PDF) authored and edited by Willem Ferwerda.
Mr. Ferwerda, a tropical ecologist, was director of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) National Committee of The Netherlands from 2000 until March 2012. In his new role Ferwerda will support the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) in making businesses and investors work for ecosystem restoration and management. As Chair of the Board of Patrons he will be actively involved in rolling out Leaders for Nature internationally.
This paper was compiled to serve as:
A plea for the establishment of an international mechanism that actively creates collaborative Ecosystem Restoration Partnerships between businesses, investors, business schools, civil society organizations, farmers and local people, that international restoration targets will be reached, investments will be returned, and practical lessons are learned by working together.
One of the many contributors to this paper is Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Quoting his statements from the paper’s introduction:Comments (0)
Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Storm Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Brad Lancaster November 15, 2012
Free Water is a semi-finalist in the $200,000 FOCUS FORWARD Filmmaker Competition and is in the running to become the $100,000 Grand Prize Winner. It could also be named an Audience Favorite if it’s among the ten that receives the most votes. If you love it, vote for it. Click on the VOTE button in the top right corner of the video player. Note that voting may not be available on all mobile platforms, and browser cookies must be enabled to vote.
Discover how to sustainably harvest 100,000 gallons of rainwater per year in your own back yard, by visiting Brad Landcaster in an urban desert as he reduces environmental and financial costs and produces free resources.
Please check out and vote for this great short video on the potential of planting the rain. If it wins, water harvesting will get a lot of great exposure, and we’ll have the opportunity to make a longer, more comprehensive video.
To cast your vote for this video, simply hover your mouse over the video, and you’ll find the ‘Vote’ button is the bottommost of the five icons on the right side.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Swales, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Neal Spackman November 9, 2012
This week the project started planting the swales with 1000 very hardy desert trees. The team is working in shifts of laying drip line, digging holes, manuring and mulching swales, putting in compost, planting, mulching again, and then adjusting the drip emitter.Comments (7)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Compost, Conservation, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Swales, Village Development, Water Harvesting — by Stephanie Blennerhassett October 31, 2012
PDCs are tricky. For two weeks we tumble into this community of unfamiliarly familiar, curious strangers. The constant whirlwind of habits, obligations, and distractions that composes our lives momentarily dissipates and we are thrust into this world where our main responsibility is to be open-minded, observe, think, learn, and connect. Yet, at the end of the day, we are singular beings and we all have our lives that we will return to. As PDC participants, we are exposed to this new paradigm together, share bemusement at fractal patterns and individual inspirations, and then suddenly depart the entropy we fell into and hopefully go off with the intent to use permaculture as a framework for making society and the environment more resilient.
However, after I was formally introduced to permaculture, as a nomadic recent college graduate, I was not sure how permaculture could be a tangible part of my life. The fulfillment from a sense of belonging and purpose I experienced during the PDC instilled within me a restless need to contribute to a project and/or community. So, I found myself asking, “Now what?”.Comments (4)
Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Community Projects, Compost, Conservation, Fencing, Irrigation, Land, Material, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Potable Water, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Swales, Trees, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water — by Alex McCausland October 25, 2012
Editor’s Note: Regular readers will have appreciated Alex McCausland’s regular and comprehensive reports from precariously positioned Ethiopia, and the great work he and his team have been doing on the ground. If you want to learn practical permaculture and gain real-world permaculture aid work experience in a location rich in agricultural history, then please consider taking Alex’s next PDC, to be held in southern Ethiopia between December 10 — 22, 2012. Your tuition fees directly support this important educational aid work.
The Hafto Solar Community Water Project site project is a solar powered water supply facility for the surrounding community of Hafto in the Hadiya Zone, South Ethiopia. The project was planned and implemented by a German NGO called DWC and is owned and run by a local NGO called SMART. The facility supplies water to about 1500 surrounding community members within an approximate 1km radius. There is a small charge for the water of about 0.01 Ethiopian Birr per liter (1$=18Birr) which covers the running costs of the project. The community members currently come to the site with donkeys to collect the water in jerry-cans which they take home for use.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Education, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Village Development, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Anthea Hudson October 18, 2012
Water — without it life on earth could not exist and yet it is often treated with little care or respect, especially by more affluent communities. Clean drinking water is actually a valuable and diminishing resource, due to all the toxins that are carelessly allowed to make their way into our water systems.
These statistics about water may surprise you and give you a greater understanding about just how important it is that we protect water, especially our potable water.
75% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water — however 97% of that water is the salt water of our oceans. That only leaves 3%, but 2% of that is frozen and only 0.5% is actually usable fresh water! Just 0.5% of all the water on Earth. Kinda brings the point home, doesn’t it?
As you can probably see, it is therefore vital that we help our children understand the value of water, the importance of protecting it and ways in which they can use it more sustainably.
Below are some ideas for introducing these concepts to your children… some of them quite a bit of fun, but with very important messages behind them.Comments (4)
Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Campbell Wilson October 12, 2012
Article and diagrams copyright © Cam Wilson
At the top end of the Marshalls’ property on the Southern Tablelands, NSW, Australia, the creek is bone dry. This spot, fed by 1250 Ha of native forest, has been that way for 10 weeks now.
Meanwhile, 1.2 km downstream at the base of their property, flowing past the fodder poplars, the bamboo and the ferns and dense native revegetation (where only blackberry stood twelve years ago), is one and a half megalitres of the crystal clear water you see in the photo above; every day. Since the creek dried up at the top of their property, 120 megalitres is a conservative estimate of the base flow that ‘the sponge’ that is ‘Sunningdale’ has continued to release to the landscape below. This is despite a catchment increase between the two sites of only 8% and five out of the last six months of rainfall being well below the average.
What’s the catch? If you’d like a bit of background on how a property like Peter and Kate Marshall’s, which has reinstated the original floodplain hydrological processes, is able to store and then slowly release water, check out the simple diagrams below.Comments (4)
Compost, Conservation, Consumerism, Demonstration Sites, Economics, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Trees, Urban Projects, Village Development, Water Harvesting, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor October 4, 2012
The yard in winter, before work begins…
A great many people today are living in fear. The future looks uncertain, but bleak. Many cannot see a future at all. The post-WWII baby boomer generation, with their short-lived cheap energy era, have been largely calling the shots, shaping the world we have today. After the miseries of two world wars, they set a course for excess. They and their descendants have been spending profligately, borrowing resources and finances from their children and grandchildren — and the deficit has increased so rapidly that the present generation is already having to foot the bill. We’ve been living the dream, and living in a dream — seeking to live lifestyles without limits — and now it’s time to pay the piper, as it were. We’re discovering that we were the children and grandchildren that society was borrowing from.
Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Irrigation, Land, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Swales, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Chris McLeod September 29, 2012
I always thought that rain was a nurturing and gentle aspect of nature. You know how it is, you get a bit of rain and it helps all of the plants to grow, provides water for us and the animals and generally stops the place from drying out. That was my thinking back in an urban environment. In that area, the drainage infrastructure had been developed and maintained over the past 120 years and it just worked. In fact, the infrastructure was so good you never really thought about it.
In a rural location however, there is usually little to no infrastructure, so any change you make to the landscape will change the way water interacts with that landscape. Winter rain here is usually quite gentle with many hours of sustained drizzle and relatively high humidity. These conditions generally don’t present too many challenges. Or so I thought.Comments (0)
Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Consumerism, Economics, Irrigation, Potable Water, Regional Water Cycle, Society, Storm Water, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 25, 2012
This is a must-watch video for all who need water (the rest of you are excused). I actually covered a lot of the material in the video in my Water Worries post, which I put together several years ago (but being one of the earliest posts on this site, when we had a far smaller audience, it barely got read, as evidenced by the fact that it didn’t attract even a single comment). This is a critical topic, and I’m pleased to say that, as did my earlier article, this video doesn’t just point out the problems, but also has an holistic view of the situation, so it also directs one to what must, and must not, be done about it.Comments (7)
Conservation, Land, Plant Systems, Podcasts, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Soil Conservation, Structure, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 19, 2012
With the U.S. and other countries caught in unprecedented droughts, and arid areas of the world growing in tandem, this simple method for speeding revegetation at scale offers a lot of promise.
The barren, arid landscapes of the world are notoriously hard to revegetate. Indeed, the earth in these regions is usually very hard to describe as ’soil’. As vegetation dies off, the soil gets exposed to intense heat and evaporation, and any seeds that are present, or applied, are then unable to get the moisture they need to germinate and survive. With plant roots, organic matter and microorganisms no longer present in the soil, it rapidly loses any of the structure it once possessed. Soil erosion from rain events and harsh winds then easily undermine nature’s attempts at natural, progressive restoration, by sending any accumulated soil particles elsewhere, or out into the ocean.
Human intervention has been, in many cases, the driving force in starting this destructive cycle, and, as evidenced by the rapid advancement of desertification worldwide, it’s also clear that it will only be through human intervention that we can reverse it.Comments (10)