ecological restoration

How Permaculture Can Help Your Land Cope With Climate Change

One way of improving the fertility of your land is through permaculture. Permaculture is an agricultural system centered on utilizing the land based on its natural characteristics.

Reasons for doing permaculture vary. Some landowners use permaculture for them to help revitalize or find use for barren land. Some adopt permaculture for ethical reasons. But regardless of the reasons, people are mainly attracted to permaculture because of its core values.

  • Cares for the environment – Permaculture recognizes that the environment provides for everything we need. So in order to get the most from the environment, it has to be nurtured and protected by using earth-friendly farming practices.

  • Caring for the people– Every property has its own unique resources to boost. And the goal of permaculture is to maximize and highlight natural resources. The concept behind this is what’s naturally available in the environment is more sustainable to raise and maintain than bringing in crops that are not naturally suited for the environment. This practice encourages sustainability and self-reliance.

  • Utilizing surpluses – Permaculture is, in a way, a form of recycling. It uses and re-utilizes whatever is available in the property. This makes permaculture healthier for the environment and an efficient farming system.

On the outset, permaculture has its similarities with other forms of land development. But what makes permaculture different is it goes beyond land development. It’s about working with your property and giving back in order to get the most returns.

It’s in the adoption of permaculture and its core values that can help your land fight climate change.

Why Go for Permaculture

In addition to being environment friendly, there are many benefits to adopting permaculture.

1.        It’s cost efficient. Permaculture encourages waste reduction. It also encourages the organic fertilizers and pest control, which is cheaper than commercially available products. This helps farmers cut costs.

2.       It adopts and works with the land. – In permaculture, the type of crops planted are chosen based on what’s naturally available, working with the property’s soil characteristics, topography, and climate. This increases the chances of crop survival and makes maintenance easier for farmers.

3.       It encourages renewable systems and produces no waste– Adopting renewable systems, like renewable energy and fuel for farms, makes them self-sufficient.

4.      It is self-supporting and efficient– Since nothing in permaculture is wasted, everything within it also serves a purpose. Crops are planted not just for profit, but to also help the soil and the local system. The insects that enter the farm help with pollination. Any other plants within the farm helps support the crops and provides additional revenue.

5.       It provides attainable solutions – Because of its values of utilizing what is readily available and working with the environment, permaculture helps provide farms with feasible plans to increase productivity.

Permaculture and Climate Change

Climate change will undoubtedly affect the global food supply. Permaculture is currently being viewed as a practical way of combating both these problems.

One permaculture practice that can help fight climate change while ensuring food supply is agroforestry, which integrates agricultural and forestry techniques. The use of native trees and plants helps fight carbon emissions. It also encourages the use and protection of a wide variety of native plants that have current and potential commercial value.

Another scheme in mitigating climate change through permaculture is through sheet mulching. Mulching is perfect for the reduction of carbon emission. Reducing evaporation, increasing the presence of organic matter, absorbing rainfall. This helps with farm irrigation without having to alter major water systems, makes use of waste, and helps preserve soil fertility.

Rainwater harvesting is another permaculture practice that can have a positive environmental impact. Flooding and drought is a big problem for farms. By harvesting rainwater, the water volume that can contribute to flooding is reduced. It also provides farms with an alternative water source for irrigation.

How to Effectively Use Permaculture

Adopting permaculture requires planning. And to figure out the best permaculture plan for your property, you’ll need the help of an expert.

This is where we Rural Design can help. Each farm is unique and not everybody can adopt permaculture in the same way. We create permaculture plans with real life scenarios, which gives you clear results.

Our experience and expertise in doing farm forestry and permaculture has exposed us to a wide variety of scenarios. Adopting permaculture would require government consents, especially if the property requires major development. Our tie-ups with local and regional units allows you to implement your permaculture plan with ease. We also do assessments to determine the best way to proceed in order to provide you with support and guidance. We will help you with maintenance and implementation with our experienced work force.

Permaculture, simply put, is a holistic approach to agriculture. It takes into consideration all the environmental elements at play in order to make farming more efficient. And because of this, if you want to adopt permaculture in your farm, it has to be done right.

Can You Do Revegetation Without Any Planning?

Revegetation refers to the process of replanting and rebuilding a damaged land’s soil, for restoring its former ecosystem. According to the Native Plant Centre in New Zealand, a company specializing in growing New Zealand native plants, revegetation is “to recreate a natural bush environment, where no bush existed before.”

Landowners use revegetation projects for many reasons:

● Resource conservation - refers to the management of natural resources to provide maximum benefit while maintaining the capacity of one’s land for future use.
● Erosion and weed control - the practice of preventing water erosion in agriculture, coastal areas and riverbanks, and the control of weed proliferation within the developed wetlands.
● Preservation of bush remnants - refers to the ecological restoration of remnant vegetation areas with the intention of minimizing weeds and erosion concerns.
● Preventing fertilizer run offs - the process of eliminating fertilizer saturation for the preservation of water while increasing the land’s nutrients.
● Encouraging native birds to settle in the area – an indicator of increasing biodiversity, the birds also help in fertilization and pest control.

Not All Revegetation Projects Have the Same Results

While there are many benefits from this undertaking, not all revegetation projects can turn out as ideal, or at least, executed as planned. Other revegetation projects have not lived up to its intended purpose, and that is, the rehabilitation of one’s land through the planting of native plant species. This was seen in a study conducted by Abigail R. Forbes, and John L. Craig, “Assessing the role of revegetation in achieving restoration goals on Tiritiri Matangi Island” (see attached link). 

The Tiritiri Matangi Island is a part of New Zealand’s extensive project of community-based restoration, focusing on habitat restoration, pest management and threatened species conservation as well as native revegetation.  The study’s goal was to determine whether the project at Tiritiri met  “the restoration goals by providing habitat for indigenous diversity, particularly birds.”  
 
They argued that although revegetation projects have captured the interest of the international conservation movement, these “initiatives (revegetation) are often conducted in an ad-hoc manner, without clear objectives or monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the chosen approach.”  That despite the efforts made, the project did not meet its desired goals due to lack of planning.

Revegetation Requires Planning and Follow-Through

To undertake a revegetation project without planning is unthinkable. Planting randomly and undermining the inherent structure of the land before a revegetation is not only unwise, it is also a waste of resources. Preserving the remaining native bushes can also be problematic without proper planning.

If you are going to start with your project, you need to consider a number of factors like the local climate, the soil conditions and altitude. In some cases, autumn is the best time for revegetation because it allows your plants to establish more roots; more roots provide a better chance of survival for the plants. In other areas with different environmental condition, different revegetation practices might be needed.

As in the case of spacing when it comes to planting, certain specifications should be followed to maximize the growth and potential of native plants. These specifications usually include:

● 1 metre for groundcovers
● 1-2 metres for small trees, ex. cabbage tree
● 3-10 metres for large trees, ex. pohutukawa
● 1 metre for shrubs, ex.  manuka, flax

Another specification to consider is the use of native and eco-sourced plants. Using plants endemic to your property that have been sourced locally helps ensure survival of the plants and adds to the ecological distinctiveness of your property.

With the help of a revegetation expert, all these specifications are taken into consideration when planning. An expert also takes into consideration possible setbacks like extreme weather, lowering of landscape heterogeneity, loss of biodiversity, and human intervention to minimize their impact.

You can conduct your own revegetation at your own expense and at your own risk, but with a professional, you save time, money, resources, and you’re assured of a certain degree of success. 

We at Rural Design have been doing revegetation services for so many years. We specialize in ecological restoration using eco-sourced plants, wetland and riprarian restoration. Our years of combined expertise, practical knowledge, and holistic approach to restoration has made us to go to firm by local government, farms, and major landowners for their restoration projects. 

We don’t just implement restoration and revegetation, we plan, support and maintain. We take steps to ensure that the projects we undertake are successful to help landowners like you reap the benefits of your revegetation projects.

Strategies for Urban Ecological Restoration

The Department of Conservation defines ecological restoration as “the process of re-establishing a self-sustaining habitat or ecosystem similar to what is likely to have existed prior to human contact, and the reintroduction of native fauna and flora and the eradication or control of pests.”
 
Ecological restoration usually involves a variety of projects such as 

● reforestation and revegetation using indigenous, native species of plants, trees and bushes
● removal of weeds and other non-native species
● habitat and range improvements

Ecological restoration is often implemented in rural communities where it’s possible to restore large areas and the benefits of ecological restoration are immediately visible. However, it’s seldom implemented in urban areas due to space and logistical constraints. There’s also the issue of how viable restoration efforts would be in an urban setting with factors like human activity and climate change come into play.

But ecological restoration is exactly what urban areas need. Eco-cities that co-exist with the natural ecosystem tend to be healthier and more sustainable. It is a perfect system for urban areas because it:

1. consumes fewer resources, 
2. produces less waste, 
3. is powered by sustainable resources, 
4. mitigates the impact of climate change and
5. provides a level of sufficiency that protects urban dwellers from catastrophic events.

Urban ecological restoration is challenging but not impossible. The goal with urban ecological restoration is to design a city that caters to sustainable population and ecological growth. It’s not just about turning a city greener. It’s about making a city and all its residents healthier, allowing both native plants and city dwellers to thrive even in an urban environment. 

In Auckland, for example, part of the challenge of making their city among the greenest in the world is the increasing number of inhabitants in the area, enabling Chief Sustainability Officer John Mauro to quip recently, “If the city is going to be a desirable place to live, we need to not only have housing that’s affordable and easy transport connections, we need to have green space.” It is only then that we consider human activity with ecological restoration that development will take place. 

Urban ecological restoration doesn’t have to be done in one massive step. It can be done incrementally in a number of ways: 

Roads - Instead of emphasizing high volume roads with equally high speed arterials, they can be toned down, converting into a two-way road but widening certain footpaths. They can be converted into a streetscape along parks and cafes, encouraging more public transport and pedestrian traffic.

Residential areas - Subdivisions with cabbage trees and other native plants as vegetation. A barren piece of land in the middle of the subdivision can be used as recreation area like a mini park or urban garden with trees planted along the road for some shade. Condominium units can provide spaces for window gardens and rooftop mini-forests. Rooftops and roof decks can be used as small scale solar or wind farms to supplement the city’s energy supply.

Parks - Small wetlands inside parks can be developed and restored into fishing or ornamental ponds. Mini gardens, native plant nurseries, and habitats for wild animals as well as observatories are installed. 

Office buildings - For new buildings, they should conform with LEED standards. For older buildings, mini gardens can be built just outside the lobby and along walkways. For all building, provisions for sustainable energy and wastewater management should be provided by building owners.

Urban farms - A large native plant nursery, greenhouse gardens as well as conservatories of rare exotic plant and animal species can be found in urban farms. 

This would be a daunting task for any city but with the right planning, implementation and resource, urban ecological restoration can be done effectively and efficiently. With public support, government initiative, and the expertise of partners like Rural Design, it’s possible to create a healthy green cities all over the country within our lifetime