Although the importance of his contributions to regenerative landscape design and management are yet to be fully appreciated and applied, P.A. Yeomans was a major source of inspiration for the development of Permaculture. He went on to devote the rest of his life to the promotion, research and development of Keyline Design and in doing so was honoured by Permaculture co-originators Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Bill Mollison labelled him as ‘…one of Australia’s greatest patriots, David Holmgren put it succinctly when he stated that, Yeomans has made Australias greatest contribution to sustainable land use because he introduced the practice of design to what previously had been just husbandry and cultivation.

Without Percival Alfred (P.A.) Yeomans and his Keyline concepts Permaculture as we know it would not exist. Bill Mollison is quick to acknowledge his debt, after making the claim that Permaculture is different from all other approaches to resource production due to its use of “conscious design,” he respectfully qualifies, “with the notable exception of Keyline concepts.” Employing keyline to a landscape as an applied design system establishes a frame-work that correlates and therefore harmonises with the sites topography. Patterning the landscape in this manner directs our focus to the details where Permaculture is utilised as a tool to finalise the integration of all the predetermined design elements. Permaculture is an applied science of landscape-ecological design, rooted in the observation of nature. As a whole-systems approach to planning and design, Permaculture has a positive and creative solution-based focus. A Permaculture approach uses a practical set of design principles and methods to harmoniously integrate landscapes with people, food production, built structures, technologies, energy, natural resources, animal systems, plant systems, as well as social and economic structures.

As human beings we are naturally drawn to the act of problem-solving, we seek out challenges and as a result develop tools to solve them. Permaculture is one of those tools, but is specific in its purpose of designing to meet human needs while preserving ecological health. Both of which can only be successful in the long term if they complement each other and acknowledgement is given to their inseparability.

Permaculture is particularly hard to define outright and is therefore often misunderstood and misinterpreted.

As Green Curves designers we simply use and argue that the most accurate and effective way

to comprehend Permaculture is as a design tool.


A tool for approaching the challenge of integrating human endeavours,

whilst maintaining ecological integrity.

Permaculture is founded on the following:


Three core tenants/values 

  • Care for the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.

  • Care for the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence

  • Setting limits to population and consumption: By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles. This includes returning waste back into the system to recycle into usefulness and respecting the earths carrying capacity.


Twelve design principles

Twelve Permaculture design principles articulated by David Holmgren in his Permaculture book: Principles and Pathways, Beyond Sustainability.


  1. Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.

  2. Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.

  3. Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.

  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.

  5. Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of natures abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.

  6. Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.

  7. Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.

  8. Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.

  9. Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.

  10. Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.

  11. Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.

  12. Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

12 Permaculture Principles

by David Holmgren

Some common practices


  • Layering - used in the design of functional ecosystems.

  • Assembling guilds - The conscious design and implementation of polycultures.

  • Zoning - The organisation of design elements based on the frequency of human use and plant or animal needs.

  • Sector analysis - Understanding environmental aspects of a piece of land such as wind, water and sun to help determine the best location for elements.


Connecting and Catalysing the Low-Carbon Communities of Tomorrow

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