In the Philippines there are laws governing the protection of areas of utmost natural beauty or which deserve our conservation. The DENR has come up with rules that will govern such places and keep them safe from human greed.
How would you start looking as a permaculturist at natural areas? If such areas are considered the library and inspiration for all designs to emerge, we should show some corresponding respect for natural or protected areas. Better yet we may explore a world where all land and seascapes are cared for, with guidelines existing to aid us in extracting or processing materials derived from nature.
Such guidelines should state that no one should poison land or plants to grow food crops. We all should grow crops naturally with no external inputs. Also, no one should be allowed to throw grey or black water out of their area of responsibility. It should read like clean in – clean out. And lastly, no one should be allowed to burn and generate waste. Everybody should practice efficient resource management.
As a starter, we can imagine what we can do, grow, extract, or consume without the excessive use of energy and with the smallest possible footprint. When we practice such habits we all get to live in protected land and seascapes, and we can assist each other in becoming better at sourcing resources. Living in such society will result in a thriving ecosystem with equal access for all to the abundance of nature.
Currently however, we unfortunately allow a minority to gain access to large tracts of land, dump a majority to smaller areas, while frantically protecting whatever is left. However, the “whatever-is-left” part is pressured by all other actors and never gains the respect it is due. Increasingly, corporations are ruling the world since under the cloak of being a person, they can own vast tracts of land. In the process of accumulating vast areas of land, these become commodities and are turned into profitable assets within the parameters of their accepted capitalist paradigm.
Nature and the economy of greed are not very compatible—that’s in the first place why we frantically need to protect whatever small wilderness areas are left. How different this can be when we embrace instead an economy based on natural systems and where the overall wellbeing of living things are prioritized. We can then all start protecting the areas around our homes and declare them as such, enjoy the abundance of produce that can be generated, and gradually we disconnect from the dictates of large corporations. As an alternative, we discover the joy of buying from our neighbors and friends. It would be surprising to find out how many people are out there making things, and they would certainly be happy making more once we buy from them.
The protected land and seascape of Palaui in Northern Luzon is not a perfect place—however, it is a good and struggling example on how we can all start making a change. Palaui is part of the larger municipality of Santa Ana located in the northern most tip of Luzon island, an area declared as a special economic zone to attract businessmen and foreigners to invest in the place. What happened here is that the town of Santa Ana, (with its gambling dens, tourist enclaves and poor land use and zoning), feels like a disconnected place not at all in tune with the targeted and protected Palaui Island. It is a contradiction and almost an insult to admit that everything goes in some areas, while others should be carefully protected. This double standard continues to confuse people. Going back to the idea of the incompatibility of nature and the economy of greed, I would wish that the municipality of Santa Ana declares the WHOLE municipality a protected area, where rules and regulations exist to extract what is only needed to produce prosperity for its residents. In the end we are all searching the gross overall happiness in the community and our own lives. Protected land and seascapes can help us achieve this.
Featured image by Cholita Dantes
Photos by Cholita Dantes and Bert Peeters