Integrated Permaculture design solutions
Gale & Snowden is interested in how human settlements can be integrated into the ecology of a site. By designing with natural systems, benefits can be achieved for all organisms sharing the site. Until this is accomplished, a development cannot claim to be sustainable.
As biologists, who are also architects, we often see things differently to other architects who aim to only design ‘sustainable’ buildings.
Landscapes can be designed to meet key human needs of food, water, energy and shelter in a way that also enhances the natural environment. This can be achieved by employing Permaculture design principles.
By understanding how biological systems work in nature and applying them to human settlement design, these principles can be harnessed to design inspiring, productive and biodiversity-rich environments that are low-maintenance and self-perpetuating.
Benefits of ecological landscaping include:
- Lower energy inputs by reducing chemical and mechanical interventions
- Lower maintenance requirements and reduced running costs due to this reduction of inputs
- Lower water consumption
- Reduce wind chill factors onto buildings and external spaces by over 50%
- Educational – linking user input and output and providing a connection for people with the natural environment
- Reduce transportation pollution by using bio-regional resources
- Enhance the ecology of a site
Key Principles Of Ecological Landscaping:
Understand the landscape – Design from knowledge. Obtain as much information about the site as possible before commencing design work. Include topographical and species surveys.
Preserve ecologically valuable features – protect rare species or particularly good specimens.
Bio-Region – Consider the locality beyond the site boundaries and the bio-regional climate as this may affect the design.
Natural principles – Design with nature by following natural processes. Set up beneficial relationships. Mimic natural ecosystems to avoid the use of chemicals or unnecessary work.
Microclimatic design – Exploit existing or create new microclimates, benefiting flora, fauna and people.
Bio-Diversity – Habitat creation and careful species selection is essential to a successful robust ecological landscape design
Water in the landscape – Consider available water resources on site such as spring water, rainwater, grey-water and black-water. Water is an increasingly valuable resource and approximately 20% of a site should be considered for aquatic/wetland habitat.
Nutrient recycling – Consider mechanisms to recycle nutrients on site, retaining/adding to site fertility.
Food production – Consider food production systems for people and farmed animals/wildlife.
Structures in the landscape – Consider introducing man-made structures such as earth mounds, walls, walled gardens, pergolas, climbing structures, fencing, etc. to create microclimates, increase habitats and provide landscape features.
Zoning – Designing for frequency of use is often advantageous to reduce unnecessary work/movement
Wild-life corridors – Ensure that wildlife has enough cover to be able to penetrate all suitable areas of a site.
Aesthetics – Successful ecological landscaping also requires thoughtful aesthetic design taking into account user requirements, historical references, etc.