An Introduction to the Principles of Permaculture

One of the fundamental beliefs of permaculture is that nature is our teacher. The principles have been observed from nature as guidelines for how we can design sustainable systems. They have evolved since the original set was published in 1972 with teachers adding their own interpretation and wording, this has resulted in over 50 principles in use.
In 2002 David Holmgren redefined the principles and created a set of 12, each with an icon and proverb to reinforce the lessons embedded within them. This set has been used because the proverbs have an immediate hook in reminding us to access our innate wisdom and the icons are useful for visual learners. Having the principle, icon and proverb together gives us with three entry points to a fuller meaning.
The ethics provide us with the reason we want sustainability; the principles point to how to do it. They can be applied to any system from soil improvement to health, transport systems to communication. Throughout the book we will see examples of the principles in action.
The principles are not isolated. They interplay, oscillating in importance as the need and relevancy arises. For each principle there are self-reflection questions to help integrate them into your thinking. After time the use of the principles becomes second nature and you will see how they overlap and interact with one another.
The principles can be used like a lens to look through for problem solving or decision-making. There are different approaches to using the principles:

  • Reflect on a problem or issue
  • Generate solutions
  • Choose from options

This information is taken from People and Permaculture by Looby Macnamara.