Monday, 30 September 2013

The seven best permaculture-related journals?

Favourite agro-ecology journals for those interested in peer-reviewed science literature

To follow last week's tentative list of the ten best permaculture books, here is Rafter Sass Ferguson's suggestion for the seven best permaculture-related journals (Rafter's website is Liberation Ecology):
  • Agronomy for Sustainable Development
  • Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (formerly Journal of Sustainable Agriculture)
  • Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • Agroforestry Systems
  • Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
  • Agriculture and Human Values
  • Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
It would be good to get this list up to ten; I have a couple of ideas but does anyone have any additional suggestions? Leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.

A plan for zero carbon Britain (report)

Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future

Zero Carbon Britain draws on the Centre for Alternative Technology's 40 years of experience to create technically viable future scenarios. It brings together the latest knowledge from a wide range of disciplines, to explore synergies that create employment, increase well-being, have a positive impact on the economy, and future-proof us for the challenges of the 21st century. The report integrates new research in two key areas 'keeping the lights on' and 'feeding ourselves properly' on a low carbon diet. By combining cutting edge technology with a smart approach to agriculture and land use, energy supply and demand, buildings and transport, it is possible for the UK to meet the challenge of climate change.

Creating places for urban agriculutre (book)

Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture

Showcasing the best examples of current design, Carrot City presents strategies for reintroducing urban agriculture to our cities. Over forty innovative projects explore creative approaches to making space for urban food production, ranging from ambitious urban plans to simple measures for growing food at home. The authors show how city planning and architecture that considers food production as a fundamental requirement of design results in more community gardens, greenhouses tucked under raised highways, edible landscapes in front yards in place of resource-devouring lawns, walls that bring greenery into dense city blocks, and productive green roofs.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The ten best permaculture books? (on-line)

10 of the Top Permaculture Books

My colleague Alan Thornton has done a quick survey of people doing the UK Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. Here are ten of their favourite permaculture books. The current favourite is The Earth Care Manual. Do you agree with their choices? Anything obvious missing? And how many of these have you read? The list might also give you some inspiration for your Christmas present list, or for a student reading list.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Should trees have legal rights? Special issue (#journal)

Journal of Human Rights and the Environment: Special Issue 'Should trees have standing?'

Nothing could be more urgent than the quest for ‘worlds other’ than the unsustainable status quo. Philosophical and jurisprudential engagement with questions of legal standing, of legal subjectivity and personhood, of legal ‘rights-bearers’, form an important part of the urgent search for an eco-humane future worthy of the name, for we live in a world pervasively structured by law's power to foreclose – or open – the ‘categories of the possible’ – a world in which law's intervention always has inescapably material effect. The rich contributions to this edition represent a fabulous meditation upon one of the most refreshing juridical re-imaginations of possible ‘worlds other’ to have emerged from legal scholarship in the past 40 years.

Property law and upland commons in England and Wales (#journal)

Property pluralism and the partial reflexivity of conservation law: the case of upland commons in England and Wales

Property is a relational concept. However the ways in which its relationality unfolds are multiple, as are its impacts on the conservation of nature. This article argues that property's relationality can be interpreted by reference to two distinct paradigmatic views: the first emphasizing its socio-legal relationality, the second focussing on property's ecological relationality. The first paradigm finds its justification in modern property law theory and culminates with a conceptualization of property as stewardship. The second paradigm, anchored in phenomenological thought, places the accent upon practices, movement and dwelling. It is argued here that UK conservation law operates with an understanding of property stemming uniquely from the first paradigm, yet the context it seeks to regulate is also permeated by the manifestation of ecologically embedded property. What counts as property is therefore contestable, and certain answers are marginalized by current conservation law. It is demonstrated that without acknowledgment of the presence of the two meanings of property, conservation law is unlikely to achieve full environmental effectiveness.

Is growth good for biodiversity? (on-line)

Is Growth Good for Biodiversity?

The Economist hosts a fascinating virtual debate, linked to a series of well-researched on-line articles and some perceptive comments. Lots of the arguments will no doubt confirm what you already think, but for the open-minded there is the chance to be challenged.

Human rights and nature (#journal)

Human rights and nature: intercultural perspectives and international aspirations

What is the impact of human rights on the protection of Nature? Considering the development of human rights law during the last century and the parallel degradation of the environment, it could be concluded that human rights have had a negative impact on environmental protection. This article aims to investigate whether this is true, and if so, how the issue can be addressed. The article challenges the mainstream approach to human rights and proposes that intercultural perspectives provide the basis for alternative approaches with the potential to recognize and better protect the environment. It argues that the protection of Nature would benefit from the evolution of the concept of the ‘common inheritance of Humanity’ into the concept of the ‘living commons’, thereby identifying Nature and Humanity alike as living beings to be protected at the international level. The underlying supposition of the argument is accordingly that Nature is a living being with its own dignity and therefore is a subject rather than an object.

Human right to governance of Earth's natural resources (journal)

Universal Covenant affirming a human right to commons- and rights-based governance of Earth's natural wealth and resources

The Journal of Human Rights and the Environment has published this covenant drawn up by the Commons Law Project in the US. It states the human right of all people to be involved in the management of the natural resources of the earth,and to benefit from their bounty. It makes interesting and provocative reading.   

2nd International Research Survey results published (on-line)

Permaculture Association 2nd International Research Survey 'What Research is Wanted?'

The Permaculture Association has published the report on their 2nd International Research Survey. The report, written by Cat Richards, analyses 45 responses to the survey conducted at the end of 2012. The key findings are:
1) 82% of participants said they would be interested in being involved in an international permaculture research network.
2) Participants felt that creating more empirical evidence about permaculture methods should be a priority.
3) The same number of participants proposed social science based questions
as suggested physical science based questions.
4) Eleven key aspects of a potential research network were identified.
The full report can be found on The Association's website, following the link above.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Videos on farming, water management and soil care (on-line)

Felix Keenan's Google Plus Page

Taking 'publishing' in its widest form, this month The Digest embraces video for the first time. While I intend to keep the focus firmly on word-based publishing, from time-to-time I will also include high quality video. To start with, here is the Google Plus Page of Permaculture Association member Felix Keenan, which contains a number good videos with a strong focus on regenerative agriculture, water management and soil care. I would welcome any comments you may have on this new direction for The Digest.

How to cook forest garden produce (book)


Food from your Forest Garden: How to harvest, cook and preserve your forest garden produce

How do you cook heartnuts, hawthorn fruits or hostas? What’s the best way to preserve autumn olives or to dry chestnuts? When it comes to harvest time, how do you make the most of the produce from your forest garden? Food from your Forest Garden offers creative and imaginative ways to enjoy the crops from your forest garden. It provides cooking advice and recipe suggestions, with notes on every species in the bestselling Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford.

Act local and change the world (book)


The Power of Just Doing Stuff: How local action can change the world

In his latest book, Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins argues that the growth of local community action represents the seeds of a new economy - the answer to our desperate search for a new way forward - and at its heart is people deciding that change starts with them. Communities worldwide are already modeling a more local economy rooted in place, in well-being, in entrepreneurship, and in creativity. And it works. Packed with inspiring real-life examples of how to change things, this book ties in with the increasing focus on community action during our tough economic times.

Science news: Latest IPCC Report (journal)

The Final Assessment

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports next week. A Nature editorial discusses the implications of its latest report and where the IPCC should go from here.

Science News: Animal antibiotics and human health (journal)

Farming up trouble: Microbiologists are trying to work out whether use of antibiotics on farms is fuelling the human epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria.

The spread of antibiotic resistant infections like MRSA is terrifying doctors. Could the routine use of antibiotics in farm animals be contributing to their rise? Nature discusses the evidence.

Science news: Himlayan nations act on climate change (journal)

Floods spur mountain study; Himalayan nations take action in response to changing climate and its deadly effects.

Following a series of extreme weather events in the Himalayas and resulting widespread death and destruction, eight countries have come together to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change in the region.

Science News: Oil pipeline divides America (journal)

A line in the sands: The scientific community is sharply divided over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada's tar sands.

The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline will ship millions of barrels of oil extracted from tar sands across North America. The debate over the pipeline has become the key battle ground in the US between those favouring cheap oil and those favouring a low carbon economy.

Science News: Monsanto drops GM in Europe (journal)

Monsanto drops GM in Europe: Region abandoned owing to stalled approval process.


Nature reports that agri-giant Monsanto has abandoned its plans to get approval for its GM crops in Europe. There is no doubt that this is a major triumph for anti-GM campaigners, including many in the permaculture community.

A Permaculture Literature Review (on-line)

A New Permaculture Literature Review

Thanks to Dr. Steve Emery of Birmingham University and the wonders of SCOPUS, a new permaculture literature review is now available. It contains 51 journal articles and conference papers items published between 2001 and 2013. As far as I am aware, it is the most thorough list produced to date. Thanks Steve! If you know of items that are missing from this list, or have a good list of your own, please send them to me:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Introduction to Evaporative Cooling (on-line)

Evaporative Cooling: Technical Briefing

This short guide from the charity Practical Action was recently sent to me by Rhamis Kent of The Permaculture Research Institute. It is a few years old but so clear and useful I thought I'd put it on The Digest. Thanks Rhamis!

Much of the post-harvest loss of fruits and vegetables in developing countries is due to the lack of proper storage facilities. There is therefore an interest in simple low-cost alternatives to powered refrigeration systems. Many of these depend on evaporative cooling. Evaporative cooling occurs when air passes over a wet surface; the faster the rate of evaporation the greater the cooling. This short guide shows you how a range of tried and tested evaporative coolers can be built using simple tools and materials.