Permaculture is, amongst others, an approach to land management that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems. It includes a set of design principles derived using whole systems thinking. It uses these principles in fields such as regenerative agriculture, rewilding, and community resilience. Permaculture originally came from "permanent agriculture", but was later adjusted to mean "permanent culture", incorporating social aspects as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka's natural farming. The term was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978, who formulated the concept in opposition to Western industrialized methods and in congruence with Indigenous or traditional knowledge.
Permaculture has many branches including ecological design, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design, and construction. It also includes integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, and regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems. Permaculture has been implemented and gained widespread visibility throughout the world as an agricultural and architectural design system and as a guiding life principle or philosophy. Much of its success has been attributed to the role of Indigenous knowledge and traditions, in which the practice itself is rooted. In turn, the rise of permaculture has revalidated Indigenous knowledge in circles where it was previously devalued.
Permaculture utilizes creative design processes based on whole-systems thinking informed by ethics and design principles. It is a fully applied philosophy and technology where sustainable and regenerative solutions are sought over an approach where only the immediate result is considered.
It covers eight general areas of life namely Ethics and Design, Land & Nature Stewardship, Building, Tools and Technology, Education and Culture, Health and Spiritual Well-being, Finance and Economics, Land Tenure and Community Governance, together shown as the "flower of permaculture". A whole system approach means that all areas that can affect or is affected by change is considered while designing a solution. In more practical terms it means that before, for example, redirecting a stream of water you fully consider all the ramifications in both the short and long term to ensure you get the desired effect and not undesired ones. Or, when looking at a problem you do consider more than just the immediate solution but also how that will evolve over time and space. When building a house you also take into consideration the breaking down the house. You seek to only use sustainable material that does not harm the life forms on the planet, nor using up resources in a way that cause especially long term damage.