Land Restoration

Evolutionary Land Restoration

A systems approach to environmental health

Permaculture principles applied in large scale landscapes

provide solutions for the battle with invasive vegetation

The explosive vegetation we witness on the Big Island, as in many parts of the temperate and tropical world, is mainly a result of soil disturbance and related factors. Esp cattle grazing has deeply ingrained these recurring cycles — the cattle eats the grass and other more delicate plants, scars the remaining sod, works its manure into the soil, and in its hoofprints plants the seeds of the so-called invasives. The cattle is sold as grass fed beef, and the resulting brushland is blamed on alien opportunist plants, left to take over the land, or to be fought in a constant state of war.

In light of what appears to be total chaos, it’s understandable that

land managers are looking to herbicide as a quick cure, but what appears to be a cure is only a temporary suppression strategy with high environmental and economic cost.

The constant or repeated disturbance of the soil and of the vegetative process keeps the ecosystem in a permanent state of alarm, and it reacts with repeated cycles of explosive vegetation - nature’s way of healing a wound.

Targeting one isolated aspect of a complex problem never leads to a sustainable solution. Systems thinking does.

To liberate the land and its inhabitants from the ongoing distress,

ecological methods can RESTORE the land. Instead of intervening with further disturbances (through grazing, mowing, plowing etc) that set the evolutionary cycles BACK, permaculture techniques propel them FORWARD, accelerating succession, utilizing the explosive biomass production to speed up the outcome and turn the ‘invasion’ into a set of remarkable benefits

The uninvited vegetation provides

shade and mulch, and thus

preserves moisture

which results in fertility,

proliferation of microorganisms and mycelium

thus jump-starting the ecosystem,

increasing diversity,

reducing erosion,

mitigating cycles of excessive growth and subsequent drought,

cooling the earth,

and counteracting global warming,

by storing carbon in the soil.

Open spaces like meadows are initially defined and imprinted through carefully timed biomass harvest of selected species, according to their rank in environmental succession.

This work, at the perimeter of potential meadow areas and in the transition zone between established or emerging ecosystems, the EDGE, reinforces underlying beneficial tendencies that quickly lead to distinct conditions on both sides.

Thus the resulting forest on one side and the open spaces on the other become anchored as ecosystems themselves, and interlocked to mutual benefit.