The common goal of all living organisms is survival. Permaculture is aimed at the long-term survival of humanity in collaboration with nature. We are part of the total ecosystem and depend on nature for many important functions. In order to understand how we can design a long-term functional ecosystem in collaboration with nature, we need to understand the main principles of an ecosystem.
Nature has three main ecological principles. These are:
the sun that provides light and warmth,
the rain that provides freshwater,
the wind (air).
The sun causes the freshwater cycle with its radiation and is also the main cause of the wind. The sun is as it were the battery on which all nature runs.
Permaculture versus Monoculture.
An important difference between permaculture and monoculture is that in permaculture you allow as many organisms as possible to grow in cascading height layers. Thus they capture more sun per square meter and ensure higher yield. In addition, this supports a good soil structure and biodiversity. In a permaculture system, you often see that berries or other fruit bushes, for example, are placed under fruit trees. The light that is not captured by the high fruit trees will be used by the layers below. We refer to this as companion planting. A table for positive companion planting selection in a vegetable garden is found here.
Seven height layers are distinguished and subdivided into 1) high trees, 2) low trees, 3) climbing plants, 4) shrubs, 5) herb layer, 6) soil crawlers, 7) root vegetables.
Learning to distinguish (having knowledge of) the properties of trees, shrubs, plants, that is, living organisms is necessary for landscape architecture. Adding useful organisms to functional systems enriches the landscape. Take the example of placing a fence to keep animals inside or outside. You can cut down trees, cutting poles out of it and nail barbed wire to the poles to achieve this. Instead, shrubs with spines can be used to screen off terrain. If those bushes also produce useful fruits, you optimize the use of natural possibilities and you contribute to permaculture.
In our region, this method has been used to a greater or lesser extent in the cocoa plantations that have been designed in the traditional Cabruca style. This plantation-style can serve as an example in understanding and perfecting the implementation of permaculture.
There are so many more options to enrich plantations and nature. This requires knowledge that we do not (yet) possess. Volunteers who can contribute this are particularly welcome.