"Permaculture" is a term coined in the 1970s by two Australians, David Holmgren and Bill Mollison. It broadly describes ecologically responsible agriculture, landscaping and habitat design techniques. Urban permaculture is permaculture that is practiced in cities, and it observes and incorporates the symbiosis that already exists in nature's ecosystems. It translates these examples into best practices for sustainable city planning and design.
Urban transportation patterns, habitat destruction and excessive natural resource consumption has led to degradation of the human environment worldwide. The objective of urban permaculture is to create more sustainable urban communities. It encourages city governments and residents to nurture and rehabilitate public and private spaces with techniques that duplicate nature's harmonious self-regulating systems.
The philosophy of urban permaculture requires that city dwellers live gently on the Earth and do no harm to the environment. The main tenets are taking care of the Earth, taking care of people, limiting resource consumption and distributing surpluses equitably. The principles of urban permaculture require resource conservation and implementation of strategies that rehabilitate the ecosystems in urban areas through intentional design.
It requires that people respect and work with nature to create an environment that sustains humans, animals and plants. Urban permaculture also embraces policies that help prevent further degradation of the air, water and land. Its best practices employ multipurpose land use as a cornerstone of urban planning. These design techniques create smart cities that integrate activities such as working, shopping and recreation with housing.
Permaculture incorporates green building techniques for residential, commercial and public construction. These include using recycled materials, carbon-friendly heating and cooling systems and water systems that harvest rainwater or reduce the usage of fresh water. Strategies such as green roofs increase the amount of vegetation available to help clean urban air. They also reduce energy utilization by providing natural insulation in both cold and hot weather.
Native-plant cultivation is an important urban permaculture practice that helps balance natural resource utilization. It also encourages the return of wildlife that forages on local vegetation, and it decreases the need for pesticides to control non-native plants and weeds. This supports the rehabilitation of urban storm water runoff systems.
Edible landscaping and community gardens are permaculture strategies that decrease food security in urban areas. They also provide opportunities to enrich and replenish urban soil by composting post-harvest waste instead of relying on chemical fertilizers. Planting fruit and nut trees also improves biodiversity. The increased availability of locally produced food also reduces energy used for transportation to deliver food from distant locations.