Great Scot(land) and Chile’s 11 million acre gift…

Hi, this is Geoff,

Lots of positive news to share this week, so let’s jump right in…

Fish and Chips: Fishermen can manage wild ocean fish stocks to be sustainable. Want proof? How about this: “Stocks of cod in the North Sea were once one of the world’s great fisheries but plummeted by 84% between the early 1970s and 2006. They came perilously close to the total collapse seen in the Grand Banks fishery off Canada in the early 1990s, which has still not recovered. But action to decommission fishing boats, ban catches in nursery areas and put larger holes in nets to allow young cod to escape has seen the stock rise fourfold since 2006.” Thoughtful policy and action does have an effect, and some of the damage we’ve done out of ignorance or greed can (thankfully) be reversed.

Great Scot(land)! Two interesting developments this week: “New figures show that wind produced enough power to meet, on average, the electrical needs of 124 percent of Scottish homes between January and June of this year.” And if that wasn’t enough: “the world’s first floating wind farm has begun to produce power in Scotland. If the technology becomes cheaper, which developer Statoil says is only a matter of time, it will open up parts of the ocean previously considered too deep for stationary turbines.

Simple and beautiful: I came across this short collection called, “Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World.” Just beautiful – no commentary needed 🙂

A Public Good: With so many governments in the world moving to privatize resources and assets that in some sense belong to humanity as a whole, I was encouraged by this recent move in Chile: “Chile set aside 11 million acres of land for national parks aided by the largest private land donation from a private entity to a country. The conservation effort of the Tompkins Foundation helped pave the way for Chile to greatly expand its conservation of the pristine Patagonia wilderness.” Incredible story demonstrating the type of results that could emerge from private / public cooperation.

In case you missed it: A few pieces of interest this week from our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute, ably curated by PRI’s editor, Jason Freibergs (thank you, Jason!):

If you enjoy these posts, be sure to bookmark the site as several new articles go up weekly, or check out thousands of other past articles, here.  

That’s it for the Friday Five.  As always, if you have comment / reactions / a different point of view, please share below.

Cheers, and have a great week,

Your friend,


2017-07-31T17:44:59+00:00 Blog|6 Comments
  • Andrew

    Hey Geoff, I’d like to ask you about something you said in your email that did not ring true to me.
    As a beginning permaculture gardener, I am inspired and excited about permaculture’s ability to improve and enrich landscapes, as you are and have demonstrated through your incredible work in Jordan and elsewhere.
    Thus, I was surprised to read that you support the expansion of Chile’s national parks. Here’s what I mean:
    By setting aside 11,000,000 acres of Patagonian wilderness as a national park, Chile did more than preserve a pristine natural area. No matter the altruistic motives that may have been involved, the costs, in my opinion, far outweigh the benefits. For example, these 11 million acres will now never be utilized in a permaculture landscape, and thus are not likely to be improved ecologically. Any problems and imbalances which now exist will at best take many years to right themselves, and at worst be exacerbated by poor park management. I’ve seen this over and over here in the US, where as soon as a wilderness area or natural wonder is set aside as a national park, government begins to mismanage it and build secret military bases in it and run pipelines through it and so on.
    Secondly, This land will never be used by the native people to grow native food, and it’s incredible food-producing capacity is now largely useless. If there is ever a shortage of food supply, which there will be, might industrial agriculture be tempted to push synthetic chemicals and GMO’s as a way to boost the productivity of existing arable land? Would this not be a worse environmental catastrophe than if the land were to be used by native people to grow food in harmony and partnership with the natural ecosystem?
    Thank you for your consideration.

    • Bill Crandall-TA

      Often whether one sees a move as good or bad depends on what one regards as the most likely other option or condition to happen, I suspect.

      But here you raise some very interesting possibilities, Andrew. How might one combine protection of the land from radically damaging processes of extraction, which we might argue is the altruistic motive here, and yet also ensure non-damaging integration of humans within the land?

      It seems that the customs of societies around access to land or exclusion from it determine a lot about patterns of use and abuse. So a very extensively cooperative stewardship has been documented in Native Australian and American societies (See Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu and Kat Anderson’s Tending the Wild).

      • Andrew

        Wow, this is deep stuff…
        I think that the only reliable way to accomplish protection of the land from radically damaging processes of extraction, and yet also ensure non-damaging integration of humans within the land, as you put it, Bill, is education. And I don’t mean Chile needs a new public school curriculum, although that might help. I mean we need a fundamentally new worldview when it comes to human-other nature interaction. If every Chilean farmer understood his relationship with the earth and the rest of nature, and the long-term consequences of it, He might very well change his practice for the better. Also, he would have to be informed and empowered to speak out against the unsustainable deforestation and other negative practices of his neighbors. Thus, a public outcry would result, and such practices might become less and less common.
        As becomes immediately apparent, such an educated and empowered society would not, could not, be gained through the use of books or lectures. It would require some method far more organic in nature, something that I really do not comprehend. Leading by example is definitely a start.
        I am seriously considering buying “Tending the Wild”. It really looks like a great book!

        • Bill Crandall-TA

          Yes, this is an important vector for study. I am now reading Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth, which attempts to reconstruct Native Australian land management customs.

          Honestly, I think that a very large part of the education that is needed is teaching permaculture. Perhaps not unreasonably, people seem to need to find confidence in the capacities of small groups to sustain ourselves in order to step away from the catastrophically damaging extractive systems that they imagine will sustain them.

          • Andrew

            I absolutely agree that teaching permaculture is very important, and that it has the potential to bring great joy and simplicity into our lives. Without subtracting at all from that, I also believe that pure, unadulterated religion can have a vital role in changing people for the better. All major world religions are adulterated, and most, if not all, have corrupt power systems. Moving away from the norm and finding something better is crucial to change our understanding, and can have effects we normally might not consider or understand. Any comments or disagreements here are gratefully accepted.
            I don’t quite understand your last sentence:
            “Perhaps not unreasonably, people seem to need to find confidence in the capacities of small groups to sustain ourselves in order to step away from the catastrophically damaging extractive systems that they imagine will sustain them.”
            Could you simplify it a little? Thank you.

          • Bill Crandall-TA

            I’ll have a run at it.

            People often stick with dismal conditions and impractical methods because they fear that something new will fail catastrophically. Adhering to the practices of current global economy, with its extractive abuses of land and water and people, mostly fits that description: very many are miserable or even just bored, but scared to change.

            Understanding permaculture allows people to understand that people can be provided for quite well without all that abuse, eventually without any of it. The solutions are concrete, understandable, and human-scaled. With understanding, individuals can begin to implement them by ourselves and in small groups and networks.

            If we understand that we can change and prosper and enjoy rather than suffering, we are apt to do that, no? Understanding the solutions in a way that involves application provides that.