Conservation, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Land, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 9, 2009
Photographs © Craig Mackintosh
Inter-row Eucalyptus saligna (Sydney blue
gum) & Casuarina cunninghamiana
(river she oak) planted in 2000
I recently had opportunity to visit a Permaculture site called ‘Dalpura Farm’, near Geelong, outside of Melbourne. Although (or perhaps, because) designed by Darren Doherty, the very well known Permaculture designer and teacher, it was dramatically different than your average Permaculture site. Rather than an urban edible garden, or a fruit-/veg-/livestock-oriented rural block, this 140-acre property was all about trees.
It’s an experimental agro-forestry project, aimed at finding the best way to produce a range of commercial products and ecological benefits from trees, with timber production being the primary focus.
I contacted Darren, the designer, and George Howson, the owner of the property, to see what it was all about.Comments (3)
Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society — by Earth Policy Institute November 3, 2009
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
Our mismanaged world economy today has many of the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme takes payments from a broad base of investors and uses these to pay off returns. It creates the illusion that it is providing a highly attractive rate of return on investment as a result of savvy investment decisions when in fact these irresistibly high earnings are in part the result of consuming the asset base itself. A Ponzi scheme investment fund can last only as long as the flow of new investments is sufficient to sustain the high rates of return paid out to previous investors. When this is no longer possible, the scheme collapses—just as Bernard Madoff’s $65-billion investment fund did in December 2008.
Although the functioning of the global economy and a Ponzi investment scheme are not entirely analogous, there are some disturbing parallels. As recently as 1950 or so, the world economy was living more or less within its means, consuming only the sustainable yield, the interest of the natural systems that support it. But then as the economy doubled, and doubled again, and yet again, multiplying eightfold, it began to outrun sustainable yields and to consume the asset base itself.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Livestock — by George Monbiot October 14, 2009
If you’re buying Brazilian beef, the answer is yes
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom
For the past five years I have been at war with Farmers for Action. These are the neanderthals who have held up the traffic and blockaded the refineries in the hope of persuading the government to reduce the price of fuel. It doesn’t matter how often you explain that cheap fuel, which allows the supermarkets to buy from wherever the price of meat or grain is lowest, has destroyed British farming. They will stand in front of the cameras and make us watch as they cut their own throats.
But through gritted teeth I must admit that they have got something right. In January the caveman-in-chief, David Handley, warned that foot and mouth disease had not been eliminated from Brazil, and that imports of meat from that country risked bringing it back to Britain(1). The buyers brushed his warning aside. In the first half of this year, beef imports from Brazil to the UK rose by 70%, to 34,000 tonnes(2). Last week an outbreak was confirmed in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
You would, of course, expect British producers to throw as much mud as they can at cheap imports. You would expect them to question their competitors’ hygiene standards and social and environmental impacts, and Mr Handley has done all of these things. But, to my intense annoyance, he is on every count correct.Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Global Warming/Climate Change, Nurseries & Propogation, Trees — by Ecofilms October 2, 2009
by Frank Gapinski
Recently whilst filming at Mulloon Creek Natural Farms near Canberra we spotted a lone figure in the barren landscape quietly digging a series of holes on a 2 kilometer stretch of swales that were designed by Geoff Lawton. Matt Kilby has been on the farm now for 12 months and in that time has developed a system of giving the trees he plants a successful start to life. Planting trees in heavily compacted soil is not easy as Matt will tell you, but it can be done if you follow some basic tips. In this video Matt explains the right way to plant a tree on a swale, especially if it’s located in a fairly inhospitable landscape and how to make sure that the trees you plant have a high success rate. The pink tree guards that Matt created are not cosmetic. They have a particular part to play in speeding plant growth as Matt explains.Comments (6)
Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, News — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 7, 2009
As concerns over food security – and maintaining a lavish lifestyle – deepen, people in poor nations are seeing their land whittled away as it gets sold to wealthy nation states and corporations.
The era of cheap food is over….
Some of us have followed the news on the recent coup d’état in Madagascar. Since January 2009 over 170 people were killed in protests before President Ravalomanana resigned as President. (Andry Rajoelina, former mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, had already declared himself the country’s leader a month earlier.) But, did you know that the actions of the South Korean car manufacturer, Daewoo, were a major rallying point for the drama?
Because of the food crisis of 2008, Daewoo negotiated to ‘develop’ 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) of land on Madagascar – equivalent to almost half of the country’s arable land(!) – so they can grow corn and palm oil to send back to Korea. Much of this land is yet ‘undeveloped’, which means it is still biodiverse rich rainforest…. And, what’s more, locals in Madagascar will get nothing in return but a few new job openings from the multinational.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 21, 2009
The following documentary, ‘Home‘, is almost perfect.
As a photographer, I was totally engrossed in the imagery – mostly shot from above, and almost entirely in the magic hours of morning and evening light – as this production gives us a vision of this world we call home that is hard to forget. It also leaves one feeling like part of the human fabric – part of the larger human family that, when you come right down to it, all depends on our planet and its immense (albeit dwindling) diversity to supply our universal, basic needs.
As a writer, that has covered the many converging issues we’re now facing – water, soil, biodiversity, deforestation, peak oil, climate change, etc. – the facts shared are also on target and up-to-date. And, again, beautifully and graphically presented.
Why I say ‘almost perfect’ is because it is only the last ten or fifteen minutes where the documentary turns about in a bid to leave the viewer feeling optimistic before it’s all over. Here it truly fails. Ultimately, it graphically and beautifully tells the tale of humankind’s misguided and unsustainable attempts at finding satisfaction – but delivers only a warm, fuzzy, nebulous feeling of how we’re to retreat from the cliff edge we’re teetering over. Despite its shortcomings, however, I give kudos to all who put it together and for their willingness to freely distribute it to as many people as possible. It’s definitely a must-watch.
‘Home’ trailerComments (1)
Consumerism, Deforestation — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 16, 2009Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 9, 2009
Aid Projects, Deforestation, Trees — by Jack Heimsoth May 17, 2009
Aipipas Elementary School, Papua New Guinea
I took the very first ‘Permaculture Aid Worker’s Training Course’ at the Permaculture Research Institute in November, 2008 with Geoff & Nadia Lawton, and Rosemary Morrow. During the course, I was unsure of my abilities to contribute to an overseas aid project. Even though I had been studying permaculture since 2006, taken two PDCs and interned at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute most of last year, I was afraid that if I went to a developing country to introduce any permaculture concepts, that I would really have little to offer and that I was too inexperienced, and wouldn’t be well received . Geoff and Rosemary assured all of us at the course that we had plenty to offer, and that the world needs us.
I remained somewhat skeptical.Comments (6)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 24, 2009Comments (3)
Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Society — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 23, 2009
Today we look at another environmental feedback loop, and also put you in the driver’s seat of the world’s biggest fast food chain.
Over the last few years, the term ‘feedback loop’ has become common terminology. For the uninitiated, it’s a concise way to describe how the results of an activity cause a change in the activity itself – subsequently amplifying the outcome of the activity, and beginning an increasingly rapid, and potentially runaway, cycle of change.
If this all sounds a bit confusing, here are few of good examples to illustrate:
- Increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are causing permafrost in the arctic tundra to melt – releasing enormous quantities of methane (approximately 20x more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2), thus escalating the pace of warming, thus releasing more methane, and so on….
- Shrinking forests, like the Amazon, reduce the ability of the forest to water itself through evaporation and precipitation – thus resulting in a rapid drying and an escalating reduction in forest cover, causing forests to transform from carbon sinks into carbon sources – amplifying atmospheric warming, escalating forest drying, and so on….
- Increased CO2 levels cause the oceans (the world’s largest carbon sink) to become over saturated with carbonic acid, causing acidification and stratification of seawater until phytoplankton (also an enormous carbon sink – using photosynthesis to take CO2 out of the water) are no longer able to function (and being at the bottom of the food chain, this has direct consequences for all other creatures…).
Today we learn of a feedback loop that is more economic than it is scientific.Comments (7)
Deforestation — by Earth Policy Institute April 8, 2009
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
In early December 2004, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo “ordered the military and police to crack down on illegal logging, after flash floods and landslides, triggered by rampant deforestation, killed nearly 340 people,” according to news reports. Fifteen years earlier, in 1989, the government of Thailand announced a nationwide ban on tree cutting following severe flooding and the heavy loss of life in landslides. And in August 1998, following several weeks of record flooding in the Yangtze River basin and a staggering $30 billion worth of damage, the Chinese government banned all tree cutting in the upper reaches of the basin. Each of these governments had belatedly learned a costly lesson, namely that services provided by forests, such as flood control, may be far more valuable to society than the lumber in those forests.
Aid Projects, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Village Development — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor March 30, 2009
In his twenty minute talk, Willie Smits (a Dutch forestry scientist who emigrated to Indonesia 20 years ago to help the country grow trees) explains how a chance encounter with a dying baby Orangutan changed the direction of his work – culminating not only in his creating the biggest orangutan rehabilitation center in the world, but also in restoring large tracts of rainforest in a community-based endeavour that is bringing work and prosperity to the people too.
The word ‘Permaculture’ is never mentioned in the following TED presentation, but the project that is the subject of this talk certainly contains many elements of Permaculture design. Among the spectacular results of the project is a documented cooling in local climate, increased cloud cover and rainfall, and a rapid increase in biodiversity of flora and fauna.Comments (6)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by George Monbiot
The debate over biochar hots up.
by George Monbiot – journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist
Reading their responses, I realise that it was unfair of me to include James Lovelock and Jim Hansen on the list of those who have been suckered by the charleaders. Their position is more nuanced than I made out. Chris Goodall, to his credit, has accepted that he was too bullish about the technology. The points he makes in its defence seem fair and well-reasoned.
On the other hand, I wasn’t harsh enough about Peter Read. In his response column today he uses the kind of development rhetoric that I thought had died out with the Indonesian transmigration programme.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor March 26, 2009
Seeing Permaculture promoted on the BBC is yet another positive sign of the times. In this 50 minute presentation, wildlife film-maker Rebecca Hosking returns to her farming roots – hoping to take over the reins of her family farm in Devon, UK – and duly considers exactly what kind of farm she wants to develop. Significantly, Rebecca looks at where the world is heading in regards to food production, and, in particular, thinks about the serious implications of peaking oil supplies on our fossil-fuel dependent agriculture.
After talking to energy experts, Rebecca seeks out a few UK-based Permaculturists in a bid to learn how some are managing their land without fossil fuel inputs, and on the way discovers the key lesson in Permaculture – that nature is just waiting to work for us, and very productively, if we’d only exercise a few observational skills.
I’m reminded of the following very astute quote:Comments (5)