all theory thread DESIGN PRINCIPLES used in our course not

Paul Osmond p_osmond at
Sun Sep 3 19:56:03 EDT 2000

I have been following this thread with great interest. Contributors seem to 
be on much the same wavelength, albeit coming from different perspectives 
(climate, soil, history of land use) and different experiences.

Here in Australia, with a shorter history of conventional (European-derived) 
agriculture compared to much of North America, plus a high, 
isolation-induced level of endemic flora and fauna, the "native vs. exotic" 
debate has been quite vigorous. In fact the main arena of debate has been 
generally centred on landscape architecture/amenity horticulture rather than 
permaculture. A growing number of local councils, for example, have adopted 
"indigenous only" policies in relation to street tree planting and park 
design. Restoration of, and estabishment of linkages between areas of 
remnant indignous flora, particularly urban and urban fringe, has been the 
focus of considerable community effort.

"Does it suck or does it spit?" is a saying attributed to Bill Mollison - a 
shorthand way of asking whether a particular proposal creates a net 
environmental deficit in terms of energy and materials used, impact on 
biodiversity etc, or a net surplus. Not always the easiest task, but a range 
of tools (such as life cycle assessment, material balance techniques, 
ecological footprinting) are available to assist.

The native/exotic issue can be addressed within this "does it suck or does 
it spit" framework. The main issue here being impact on biodiversity, 
understood on a genetic, species and ecosystem level. In other words, will 
planting this particular species result in a net increase or net decrease in 

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