Fire is an intrinsic part of the Australian landscape. With the opportunity to both reduce carbon emissions and build community resilience, Australia should be leading the world in transitioning to renewable energy to reduce the severity of bushfire. Fire has become more destructive since European colonisation. And due to climate change and changes in land use, Australia has experienced even greater destruction over recent decades. Australian landscapes were once effectively managed by Indigenous cultural burning practices, but stopping this has left us with denser forests more vulnerable to fire.
Retrofitting our homes, gardens and lifestyles to be more self-reliant and resilient promises both a more fulfilling life for us and multiple benefits for society and the environment.
Over the last two decades I have explored permaculture as a set of thinking tools for the energy-descent future and outlined a nuanced and over-the-horizon view of the diverse ways in which that energy-descent future might unfold. Since then ‘resilience’ has displaced ‘sustainability’ as the buzzword about the future, while ‘energy-descent’ still lurks on the conceptual fringe.
Permaculture is a design system for sustainable living and land use that is being applied to every aspect of life, but it is best known in its application to food production, at scales from the garden to the farm.
What is permaculture? Is it gardening, is it chooks and composting, or as one concerned Japanese mother put it ‘angry people growing vegetables’? It must be something more. How did two plant lovers in Tasmania create something that grew so big?