Idea of having a wilderness in a farm is so alien to modern agriculture. But not to Permaculture. Brilliant & out of the box – Thanks to Bill Mollison & David Holmgren to bring wilderness back to agriculture.
It is one of my favorite permaculture zones – its value is priceless.
1. Place to observe & learn
Wilderness, at it’s climax, is diverse, sustainable and resilient system. It’s a complex and ever evolving. Through protracted and thoughtful observations of the system, we can learn about interactions among various elements. These learnings can be applied to design sustainable productive systems.
2. Soil regeneration & more
It can play a very important role in regenerative agriculture. Fallen leaves, branches and wildlife droppings decompose. This process builds fertility.
Forest grows on a fallen forest. It feeds itself.
Large trees with long tap-roots bring minerals up & make it available to smaller & annual plants.
3. Wildlife corridors
Imagine a macro design where neighboring property owners agree to have connected wilderness zones. This creates continuous wildlife corridor allowing a free movement for wildlife. This has a potential to minimize human-wildlife conflicts.
In return, we get multiple services – birds help to keep pests under control. Birds, butterflies and bees help with pollination. Snakes keep rodents in check.
This zone is supposed to have minimal disturbances from us. That makes it a safe place for local fauna. And we get diverse neighbors.
4. Firewood, timber & more
This zone can provide firewood to meet some of our energy needs through sustainable harvesting. We can have timber species in this zone as a long term product. Native wild fruits, edible & medicinal plants can supplement our food needs.
5. Environmental services
It helps improve water table level in surrounding areas. It also helps minimize soil erosion. It stores carbon & purifies air. It’s correct orientation can help reduce noise & dust pollution. It can act as a wind break – helps fruiting plants.
Additionally, when mature as a guild, it acts as native species gene bank.
6. Nursery of young trees
A mature wilderness creates a right kind of micro-climate for tree seeds to germinate & saplings to grow.
7. Place to heal
Nature has an amazing ability to calm our senses. There is enough research published on nature’s healing powers. This zone offers an opportunity to reconnect with nature, be one with nature.
We characterise this zone as the natural, unmanaged environment used for occassional foraging, recreation, or just let be. This is where we learn the rules that we try to apply elsewhere.Bill Mollison, Permaculture – A Designers’ Manual
If your property already has wilderness, be grateful. Protect it. Use it for your advantage while designing your farm.
If you have not inherited one, start creating one. It’s never too early.
By placing the wilderness zone at a right location during design, you can reduce your inputs. Your managed systems, like orchard & veggie garden, can benefit from this zone.