all theory thread DESIGN PRINCIPLES- succession and weeds

askpv askpv at
Sun Sep 3 20:37:30 EDT 2000

I agree with Robyn here and want to add that we do commit zone 5 (at least
20% of permaculture designs
to indigenous species)
the weed debate is huge in Australia (I have just re-read Tim Lowes Feral
Future and find it
so negative - it feels too great for one person to assist, but we must).

In my urban village there is huge pressure from conservative conservation
they put brochures in my letterbox
reminding me to remove privet, coral tree, jasmine, maidera vine and lawyer
Many go on to remind me that even tomatoes are not indigenous.
There is a cold war happening here and i'm stuck in the middle.
(there are those who call me a greenie and find it fun to rip out the plants
and throw them on the road,
and then there are the facist greenies who call me a weed! :>

yet the reality is imposing: when I raise my head to the mountains in spring
I see waves of privet flowers nodding!

last year we had flash flooding, we had 10inches of rain in one hour.
if I had removed the coral trees in the creek I would have lost more than
1/4 of an acre of soil, the other bank collapsed and trees over 80 years old
we undermined and killed.

I prefer to practice the principle of succession on weeds here.
I am planting indigenous strangler figs into the big weedy trees.

I am giving reign to the least harmful weed (or more easily eradicated weed)
over the worst weed and then replacing
it with natives and edibles mixed.  The risk of erosion is too great to
leave the soil bare for any period of time.
for several years we have had the highest rainfall in N.S.W.

I am slowly changing the micro-climate to combat the weed problems and I
have created a long border patrol of chickens
to help with nasty creepers into the now more stable areas of the garden.
they also help with pest control.
but nothing is permanent, it all needs observation and management.


Permaculture Visions International.
Students and graduates in 20 countries
(Australia, Canada, NZ, USA, France, Malaysia, Brazil, India, UK,
Jerusalem, Israel, Ireland, Africa, Thailand, Japan, Portugal, Tonga,
Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Costa Rica)
Exclusive Student and Graduate Mailing list
Commercial and Private Permaculture System Design
ISO 14000
<mailto:askpv at>

-----Original Message-----
From: permed at [mailto:permed at]
Sent: Monday, 4 September 2000 7:45
To: permaculture
Subject: Re: all theory thread DESIGN PRINCIPLES used in our course not

The weed debate, especially exotics vs natives is a complex issue with
numerous layers of implications and considerations. I try to tread a
delicate pathway between the factional extremes.

As a pc teacher and designer I advocate the following basic guidelines

1. a high level of responsibility towards protecting the integrity of
remnant ecosystems and surrounding these with a buffer of endemic
(locally native) plants which can also be selected for yields and
specific functions - i.e. productive native systems for fuel, fibre,
fodder, bee forage, native foods, medicines, craft materials, timber etc

2. In damaged and denuded areas re-introduce local native species
assemblies along riparian zones (gullies, water courses and flood plains)
and steep slopes as conservation forests, wildlife habitat and corridor

3. Where a native plant will do the job give it preference to an exotic

4. No system should be purely exotic - In inner zones where exotic plants
provide most of our food & product needs aim to incorporate at least 20%
native plants (for yield, pest predator habitat, birds, wildlife & other

5. All systems need management, maintenance and monitoring - if you
discover an introduced species getting out of control, readily self
sowing or being spread by birds then seriously consider removing it from
the system and replacing with a less rampant plant.

6. Re- bush regeneration look carefully at what factors have changed
(drainage patterns, nutrients etc) and select appropriate plants from a
native (local) ecosystem with similar qualities. Ecology is a dynamic
process, one factor changes and the whole ecosystem will change to adapt
- work with the process - we can't stop the ecological clock. Sometimes
we need to accept the inevitable evolution of new hybrid (mixed native
and exotic) ecosystems in many situations where the impact of agriculture
and human settlement is irreversible (the Holmgren principle)

I am in the process of removing several species of introduced plants here
at Djanbung Gardens which are proving to be too successful in dispersing
themselves, they are not incredibly productive or palatable plants (like
icecream beans - they are incredibly productive but you can only handle
eating so much) and I and the system certainly won't suffer from their
disappearance. Some have done their 'job' (e.g.succession) and I look
forward to replacing them with something more productive.

Each plant needs to be carefully evaluated and assessed within the
context of the whole system. The perennial pigeon peas I used as a
leguminous shrub pioneer are successfully self seeding but I don't
consider them a problem - wallabies (small kangaroos) love to eat the
young seedlings and will assist in their control. The native parrots love
the seed, but they digest the seed and don't disperse it like the hard
seeds of berries and fruits that pass through their digestive tract, and
pigeon pea are easy to remove and eliminate from the system.

On Jarlanbah (PC community I designed) there are by-laws for the
landscape on house lots which include a clause requiring the lot owner to
be responsible for removing any plant escaping from their lot onto
neighbouring lots or the community land.

Ultimately it is a matter of basic responsibility and respect for our
native vegetation and ecosystems and trying to find a balance between the
exotics that contribute to our survival and the right to survival of our
unique native systems and species.

While all species are ultimately native to planet earth we do need to
commit ourselves to local species conservation if we are truly concerned
about earthcare and ecological responsibility.

Robyn Francis

Permaculture Education
Djanbung Gardens
PO Box 379
Nimbin NSW 2480

You are currently subscribed to permaculture as: askpv at
To unsubscribe send a blank email to
To subscribe send email to lyris at
with message text containing: subscribe permaculture

More information about the permaculture mailing list