An Overview of Permaculture Land Types

One way that I like to CATEGORIZE LAND is by it’s relationship to one of the most important organisms of all – TREES … Bill Mollison has written much about trees – (Google “Mollison trees guardians of the earth”). The NASA pic I have included below gives a pretty good global overview of these land types. The 3 categories are …
(1) ARID – Land which currently has too little moisture to grow trees. The Chinese are well known for having one of the largest failed afforestation programs in the world over the last 50 years. (Google “china failed afforestation”). Allan Savory has correctly pointed out that there is only one way to solve this problem – Holistic Management of Large Herbivore Herds (Google “cows save the planet” and “allan savory ted talk”)
(2) OPEN – Land which currently has enough moisture to grow trees but is currently open (0% – 50% tree canopy cover). I categorize open land into two types – Cropland and Pastureland. The latter is the type of land upon which I interned for 6 months with Greg Judy, one of the world leaders in Holistically Managed Cattle and an Allan Savory disciple. This type of land can be improved year after year with herd management alone, but can be enhanced with annual Keyline Plowing. Trees can also be planted and there is enough moisture for them to take hold and grow. Mark Shepard says that a tree canopy cover of about 50% is optimum for supporting the maximum number of large mammals (which includes humans). On my small plot of land, I have about 8 acres of this type land.
(3) FORESTED – Land which is currently treed (51% – 100% tree canopy cover). This type of land is most interesting to me currently for three reasons … (a) It can be acquired through lease or purchase very cheaply compared to Pastureland or Cropland (b) It provides excellent resources for developing settlements and (c) Food calorie production per acre can be much higher than for open land used for grazing. (I don;t know for sure yet, but I suspect at least 1 million food calories per acre per year with no external inputs) The highest calorie production density of all comes from gardening. Walter Haugen reports about 2 million food calories per acre per year with (virtually) no external inputs. So to me the ideal settlement locations would include a mix of woodland and pastureland, but I’ll settle for pure woodland if necessary because the tree canopy can be opened up to around 50% (Mark Shepard Optimum) almost immediately. On the other hand, to ADD trees to a landscape takes many years. We should do it, but it’s a slow process.

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