Permaculture movement

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The permaculture movement applies and develops the theory and practice of permaculture, a design system for sustainable and resilient human habitats created in Australia in the 1970s and since adopted by practitioners in most countries in the world.

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

Origin and Diffusion of Permaculture

Permaculture originated in the work of Australian field ecologists David Holmgren and Bill Mollison in the 1970s, with the publication of the books Permaculture One[1] and Permaculture Two[2], and since spread largely through the medium of popular education. Mollison travelled the world teaching and lecturing, issuing qualifications to those attending his courses and so creating networks of recognised permaculture designers and teachers in Australia and several other countries. The first International Permaculture Convergence, in Australia in 1984, formalised this procedure somewhat, adopting the design certificate as a basic qualification and diploma as a more advanced title[3]. This two-tier system has been widely adopted by national associations, many of whom issue certificates and keep registers of recognised teachers and holders of design certificates and diplomas. Elsewhere, particularly when adopted by existing farmers in traditional smallholder-dominated local and regional economies, permaculture has spread through far more informal and aformal processes of peer-to-peer learning among farmers. In such cases, which include networks in Nepal, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Guatemala and elsewhere, the number of active practitioners far exceeds those having taken a course or been awarded a qualification. Among educated and relatively affluent populations in particular, the written work of Mollison and others, along with magazines and internet articles and videos, are important diffusion media and form some people's first exposure to permaculture thinking.

Michel Thill considers there are 5 reasons why Permaculture has become a global movement:[4]

  • Permaculture responds to a need of the time
  • Permaculture was made openly accessible
  • Permaculture is highly practical
  • Permaculture applies appropriate technology and common sense
  • Permaculture embraces change and new ideas

Scope of the Permaculture Movement

  • Scope of present-day movement
    number of recognised associations and countries where PC present
    numbers of practitioners (links to country pages)
  • PIRN
    PA surveys?


  • IPCs as key movement-building events (separate page listing each in detail)
  • Next Big Step


Rafter's survey Ferguson, R. S. & S. T. Lovell (2015), Grassroots engagement with transition to sustainability: diversity and modes of participation in the international permaculture movement. Ecology and Society 20(4):39.


  1. Mollison, B. & D. Holmgren, 1978. Permaculture One. A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. Tyalgum: Tagari.
  2. Mollison. B., 1979. Permaculture Two. Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture. Tyalgum: Tagari.
  3. Francis, R. (2015). A Permaculture Oddysey: 1977 to present. Presentation to IPC-12, London, September 2015.
  4. Accessed October 8th 2018.