Work with nature is one of the key principles of permaculture design

Putting massive effort into attempting to ‘tame nature’, such as by damming valleys and flood plains or creating and maintaining bare soil by plough, is not only energy consuming, unsustainable and destructive, it is also unnecessary when we can meet the needs of people and the environment by working in harmony with, or even directly utilise, natural systems. Instead of using massive chemical inputs to control pests, why not encourage predators such as ladybirds and hoverflies to do our work for us (see Biological pest control)? Or why not construct homes that utilise passive solar energy and wind power rather than building nuclear power stations?

Proponents of competitive concepts such as nuclear power, war and space travel seem to be willing to "abandon a dying earth." However, Permaculture has been embraced in most, if not all, of the countries which fought wars in the previous century. The United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq - all have been victims of conflict and "westernization," and portions of the population of each country have turned to one form of permaculture or another.

Bill Mollison writes in Permaculture: A Designer's Manual,

  • "Life is cooperative rather than competitive, and life forms of very different qualities may interact beneficially with one another and with their physical environment."
  • "(Permaculture) is a philosophy of working with rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless action.."
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