Biodiversity offsets threaten both the survival and the meaning of nature.
by George Monbiot: journalist, author, academic and environmental and political activist, United Kingdom.
Propose a get-out clause and – however many warnings and caveats you wrap round it – before long it will be used. This post is about the dangerous new concept the government has seeded in the minds of developers and planners.
The idea is called biodiversity offsetting. It involves trading places: allowing people to destroy wildlife and habitats if, in return, they pay someone to create new habitats elsewhere. In April the UK government launched six pilot projects to test the idea, which would run for two years.
“The government warns that these offsets should be used only to compensate for ‘genuinely unavoidable damage’ and ‘must not become a licence to destroy’; but once the principle is established and the market is functioning, for how long do you reckon that line will hold?”
The answer, it seems, is “not very long”. A year and a half before the pilot projects have been completed, the new spirit of destruction is roaming the land. A place of outstanding wildlife value is now being considered for demolition, and biodiversity offsetting is being mooted as the means by which it can be justified. It’s hard to believe that this scheme would still be receiving serious consideration if the mother of all excuses had not been proposed by the government.
OK, here we go, the second installment of this series regarding my journey to become a professional permaculture designer. In my last article I touched on who I am, what I am doing and why, and discussed some general topics which included defining my services, networking and, on a very general level, the importance of examining price structures for services. As a result, I was contacted by a nice guy by the name of Scott Mann who runs a great podcast series called The Permaculture Podcast. It turned out we had a lot in common. He had also travelled the road of becoming a professional designer, and although he ended in a different stream of permaculture, the process he undertook led him to the path he is now on, that being sharing important permaculture information from various experts to a global audience. A job, I might add, that he’s doing very well! So, regardless of the outcome, the fact he took steps to becoming a designer got him to where he is now. There’s a lesson in that.
Anyhow, during the interview Scott asked me about obstacles I have encountered so far in my professional development and ways in which I have addressed these. It was a good question and I thought this might be a handy topic to concentrate on this time around.
When I reflect on the process so far, although there have been numerous obstacles, the most notable for me have been psychological — specifically those of commitment and confidence. I touched on these two hurdles in my first article but thought they warranted a bit more explanation as for me they have been so significant. My experiences so far are as follows.
While at Wadeye, Northern Territory, Australia, installing a permaculture design for Earth Ethics, this video was taken when I was explaining how to install swales and level sill spillways and what their function is, to some of the guys working on site.
So if you want to understand how to install swales and spillways, this might help.
Apologies for the unbuttoned shirt, I was not aware this was being filmed.
I believe that we will need to produce food in our urban centres, because I can’t figure out how else we are going to meet an increased demand from our cities. With over 50% of the world’s population living in them, currently relying on an unsustainable agricultural system to deliver all the nourishment they need, it’s not hard to understand that something will need to change.
In order to meet this need in the ways of a permaculturist, I have dedicated my working hours to the concept of Edible Cities.
This was a nice find. Here we can hear permaculture co-originator David Holmgren sharing his own story on his involvement with the birth and development of the permaculture design system, as well as talking about the permaculture ethics and how these embody the solutions we need as we move from an era of abundant, non-renewable energy to a world that must work within the constraints of a more limited cyclical supply of energy and resources from real-time sunlight.
Though overshadowed by his written work, Alexander’s built work has been
prodigious, with some 300 buildings around the world. Above, a title image
from a 2009 exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Chances are, you have heard of Christopher Alexander because of his most famous book on architecture, A Pattern Language. What you may not know is that Alexander’s work has spawned a remarkable revolution in technology, producing a set of innovations ranging from Wikipedia to The Sims. If you have an iPhone, you may be surprised to know that you have Alexander’s technology in your pocket. The software that runs the apps is built on a pattern language programming system.
How did an architect come to have such influence in the world of software — and as it turns out, a lot of other fields? (To name a few: biology, ecology, organization theory, business management, and manufacturing.) It’s a fascinating story — and it might just have something to say about the state of architecture today, and where it might be headed.
Writing the article series about Food Forests has made me aware of how much interest there is in them and how they can vary from region to region, but it also highlighted to me just how difficult it may be for people to actually visit a food forest.
However, thanks to the wonders of the internet and YouTube, people have the opportunity to take a virtual tour of a food forest and see how it progresses over time without leaving their chair!
Editor’s Note: I put this newspaper piece up just to get all of you permaculture event attendees thinking about easy ways to leverage the impact of the event — i.e. why not do a short write-up on it and see if you can’t get it published in your local rag. Most local newspapers are keen to get free content, and so permaculture can get free advertising, for the benefit of all. Just a thought….
First published in Mt Shasta Herald, California, Nov 7, 2012
Last month, after meeting activists and hearing of amazing projects at the 2012 Northern California Bay Area Permaculture Convergence, I decided to also participate in the week long Advanced Permaculture intensive on Watershed Design, Earthworks and Food Forests. Even though I have attended courses in permaculture, aquaponics, optical surveying, GIS and photo interpretation, and forest ecology over the past 4 years, this week-long immersion with international permaculture designer and teacher Geoff Lawton caused a pronounced deepening in me. I “groked” a whole different way of thinking and seeing landscapes.