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Mollison's Permaculture Zones - what happened to Zone 5?

 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Suffice to say that I believe mindful hunting of over-populated herbivores is appropriate in Zone 5 as a stop-gap in the absence of non-human apex predators. The long-term goal would be to restore a complete ecosystem with predators, but since neither the state nor my neighbors are interested in that, it isn't going to happen.



Precisely. You and I aren't too far apart geographically, in the ecosystem challenges we face, or in our attitude about this. I've got the kind of neighbors who would trespass on my property to shoot any sort of predator (as indeed I suspect they already do trespass in pursuit of coyotes) because they think they are doing us a favor by killing "vermin". It's a set of attitudes formed when ranching was king, that's become a sort of cultural default whether or not there are any cows around to worry about.

So clearly I'm not going to be able to make complete habitat for wolves or cougars on our dozen or so acres of cross-timbers forest, I just don't manage enough land for that. But what I can do is maintain our zone 5 as natural ecosystem so that it's filled with as many native species as possible. That will make it as welcoming as possible to the existing predators (we do have bobcats in good numbers in these parts) and maintain a little seedy core of biodiversity that may prove valuable in the future if something changes with our society or our neighbors. Maybe when the cougars and the wolves do come back (which they will after a human crash if we don't permit them to return sooner) the little bit of zone 5 wilderness out back can play a role in supporting that.
 
pollinator
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There is (permaculture) theory and there is the reality we have to deal with.

In the case your property is already existing you have less options to design. In the case of fire risk in zone 5 that cannot be mitigated in your other zones I'd see that as an emergency argument to indeed take down the trees that are too risky and take care of dead wood that that could start or increase the risk of fire reaching the human zones. In theory you then influence life in zone 5, which means it's no longer zone 5. The theory would say, see what happens when you do nothing, and learn. I think however that such clear potential problems should be taken care of, because the price of not doing that would be too high. I would also still call it zone 5, despite the modifications.

Hunting deer has another dimension. As we humans take out the top level predators, we are bound to take over their function, else the whole thing goes out of balance. I don't think that has anything to do with zones.

Now the permaculture theory has another answer for fire risk. In a design process you can only choose your zones after a sector analysis. In that analysis you look for outside energies that enter or can enter the property. Hot summer winds, cold night air, floods, fire, noise etc. You can also add other off site things like a nice view. Based on these sectors you select the house site and your zones. The sector that has the fire risk could be made zone 4 and planted with fire retarding trees, or a fire lane could be installed, etc. But yes, doing things that way means starting from scratch again and that's normally just not an option. I do think this tells us to be careful not to force functions. Obviously a fire risk is a serious thing and it might be that making it zone 5 is not the best choice.
 
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Rene Nijstad wrote:
Hunting deer has another dimension. As we humans take out the top level predators, we are bound to take over their function, else the whole thing goes out of balance. I don't think that has anything to do with zones.



Can you explain why you don't think it has anything to do with zones?

As I understand them, zones have to do with human interaction and intention. How would hunting be outside of this aspect of design?

I want to add something I think is important about Zone 5. I see a tendency for people to apparently think that because they don't have a pristine piece of land that they can't have a Zone 5. This goes right back to the main topic of this thread which is the importance of Zone 5 as part of permaculture design - everyone can have a Zone 5, at least according to Mollison. It is not limited to pristine pieces of land, that somebody somewhere else is making sure to set aside. It is a responsibility of each and every one of us permaculturists, in my opinion, to provide special habitat for non-humans.

 
Rene Nijstad
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Rene Nijstad wrote:
Hunting deer has another dimension. As we humans take out the top level predators, we are bound to take over their function, else the whole thing goes out of balance. I don't think that has anything to do with zones.



Can you explain why you don't think it has anything to do with zones?

As I understand them, zones have to do with human interaction and intention. How would hunting be outside of this aspect of design?

I want to add something I think is important about Zone 5. I see a tendency for people to apparently think that because they don't have a pristine piece of land that they can't have a Zone 5. This goes right back to the main topic of this thread which is the importance of Zone 5 as part of permaculture design - everyone can have a Zone 5, at least according to Mollison. It is not limited to pristine pieces of land, that somebody somewhere else is making sure to set aside. It is a responsibility of each and every one of us permaculturists, in my opinion, to provide special habitat for non-humans.



Hunting deer in the absence of big predators I think has no relation to zones, because the top level predators if they would be there are not bound to our zones either. So if we have to fill the function they had we would have to get out there where they normally would have been.

Zone 5 is wilderness in my view, where you can learn from nature. It has nothing to do with how pristine it is. Our zone 5 is some patches of trees, some poor regrowth forest, an area with bushes which is very early stage succession, and a former grass area that now starts to convert to a more wooded landscape. I think you could make a zone 5 on a bare piece of land if you would like. The key is not to interfere and learn from what you see happening there.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you for clarifying, Rene.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Gilbert Fritz wrote:I would support shrinking (not eliminating) zone 5 on small patches of private land, especially in suburbia, so we could expand zone 5 in big swaths elsewhere. That would be more conducive to large wild animals and natural processes.



Mollison seems to put the greatest responsibility for land restoration and return to natural systems on farmers:

"What is proposed herein is that we have no right, or any ethical justification, for clearing land or using wilderness while we tread over lawns, create erosion, and use land inefficiently. Our responsibility is to put our house in order. Should we do so, there will never be any need to destroy wilderness. Indeed, most farmers can become stewards of forest and wildlife, as they will have to become in any downturn in the energy economy. Unethical energy use is what is destroying distant resources for short-term use."


One question I'd like to ask- if anyone following this thread happens to have any insight here- is whether Mollison was addressing the status quo farms in the thousands of acres, or the permacultural farms of the future?

In converting a farm or ranch of thousands of acres into a permacultural system it's comparatively easy to dedicate a belt a few hundred feet wide along an edge of the property for use as a wildlife corridor or - in the case of farms which abut wilderness- to designate a portion of the land as part of that wilderness.

It's not so easy [and sometimes of zero value to larger fauna (large predators in particular) regardless the size of the zone 5 in question due to isolation from wilderness] on smaller systems that are closer to urban areas trying to mitigate transport costs [both economic and ecologic] and provide high quality food while regenerating soils and smaller scale ecosystem functions [such as insects and birds and reptiles and small mammals and such.]
 
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My understanding of Bill's approach to wilderness is that it is not strictly hands-off. Certainly in W. N. America, native peoples burned, hunted and gathered nearly everywhere. I was doing a hike high in the Sierras in California, and saw a fine stand of native Polygonum just coming in to fully ripe seed. Twenty feet away, in the bedrock, was a grinding hole for processing the seed. And I heard a story about Yurok men telling about how, if the timberline burning was done right, snowpack melt was optimum for the Salmon run and the huckleberry crop would be better. Why not move around to where the weather fits your clothes? When the water hole dries up, go to where there's water. These are old human patterns. Before the Wilderness: Ecological Management by Native Californians is a fine book to check out. There's a story by a NW forest ecologist about hiking high into old growth forest, and sticking his hand into a rotten log (he loves to demonstrate how you can squeeze clear water out of the rotten wood on a hot, droughty summer day) and he cut a finger on a buried obsidian hunting point...
Even on my urban half-acre I've successfully maintained and increased a population of garter snakes. (they survived here because this old orchard became a blackberry thicket with junked cars. The snakes eat slugs, so I call them gardener snakes) and increased the insect species breeding here. (Vanessa atalanta has informed me this year that they are ready to move in, and would like me to provide a nettle patch, which I will do.) Canadian friends have told me that zone 5 is the LFA zone- "Leave it the F! Alone" but I don't think it's that cut and dried. Above all else, seek out anyone with traditional knowledge and learn all you can; an ecological anthropologist who works for the state of Alaska told me the guys who know the bush are all 60+ now, and thinning ranks fast.
 
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I think that the reason more people aren't doing zone 5 is financial. Most of us are limited financially and looking for the most bang for the buck. If we only needed 5 acres, but could get hold of 20 or 40, there could be lots of zone 5. The problem is that if we need 5 acres, we want the best 5 acres we can get. That is usually going to come at a higher price and not have an extra bunch of land associated with it we can put into Zone 5.

My wife and I are currently going through this. I am watching land in the area we want to move to in 2 -3 years. When I see a plot of 10 or 20 acres and point it out, my wife always says "that's more than we need, it would be wasting money we'll need for other things." I can't really argue against that, since when I retire our income will drop. Two basic parts of our natures are currently in conflict. I (maybe foolishly) have faith that it will work out, she frets and studies and needs a concrete plan, with color coded charts. I have not been successful in convincing her why we should have the extra land, partly because I am feeling things that have not come to the surface enough for me to verbalize properly, so we are still working through this. We will eventually come to unity, we pretty much always do.

My point is that the two of us represent what is going on in most couples and individuals. Since there isn't enough money to get it all, we want to get what is most needed. We take care of zone 1 first, then we look to zone 2, then zone 3, etc. By the time the money runs out, I suspect many people haven't reached zone 5 and it goes begging.

Years ago I was doing some geologic mapping in an area that didn't seem to have been touched by anyone, ever. I had worked my way down a wash and was eating lunch on a small knoll. I noticed that several washes emptied into the dry river bed and thought "this would be a great place to hunt, the wildlife will follow the washes and all funnel down to this point." I looked down between my feet and saw a bunch of obsidian chips on the ground. It was a strange feeling when I realized some indian hunter long ago had thought the same thing and sat on the same rock, chipping arrowheads or a blade while he sat and waited for game to come to him.

In reality, there hasn't been much if any 'unspoiled wilderness' for several thousand years at least. Humans are a part of most ecosystems and have been for just this side of forever. We often have a bigger impact than our numbers might suggest. We can (and have been at times) the beavers of the world, creating and nurturing niches, or we can be (and have been) the swarm of locusts, leaving destruction in our wake. Helpful or destructive, we have been part of the ecosystem for a long time. I have a feeling that much of our historical negative impact, especially in more arid areas has been due less to the farming than to overgrazing by our animals (and killing off predators who might prey on our animals). I don't feel that it is breaking some commandment to get involved in your zone 5, just realize that the primary purpose of zone 5 is not to serve you. It is primarily there to serve the 'little people' or nonhuman members of the ecosystem, so we need to be careful about what we change there, but if you have an invasive coming in and creating a monoculture, you probably want to get involved.
 
pollinator
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This is an interesting thread. I only have an acre but do keep a Zone 5, which is essentially a mix of some old cedar and big leaf maple trees, disturbed forest, and a ton of blackberries. I'd really love the blackberries gone, but I have increasingly come to the conclusion that I am not as good at creating habitat in the other zones as I would like to be and the blackberries are probably doing a better job serving the needs of the wildlife than I am. I have a dream of a mixed hedgerow in my Zone 2 that is helping meeting the needs of the wildlife, but that hedgerow is currently still being planted, immature, and not actually providing a whole lot in the way of food or shelter. Five years from now, it will probably be a nice space for wildlife. Currently, it'd be arrogant to think I'm doing a better job than nature...I'm not. So, brambly, ugly, blackberry-riddled Zone 5 it is.

I will say, I inherited the property with a lot of lawn and I've let about 2/3rds of it grow up. Suddenly I have garter snakes in the tall grass and my slug population is way down. It doesn't take much to create a friendlier place for our wild friends.
 
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@Mick F.: "I have not been successful in convincing her why we should have the extra land..."

We got a bit lucky in that the ~20 acres we have was essentially a 5 acre farmstead with some extra land thrown in. That said, my wife is the one who would like to buy an additional piece that would end up placing the farmstead squarely in the middle of the property, thereby minimizing exposure of the immediate farmstead to the local farming practices and public right-of-ways. Although the bulk of the property has not, since we purchased it, been really 'managed', we coverted what was rented-out as cropland back to native prairie and river-bottom/riparian habitat. The fact that this has not been managed has lead to the predicted succession of ash/elm/box elder saplings into many of the areas planted to native grasses. So at this point, it's an "as we have time" project to thin out some of the saplings and let other stands progress through the natural succession.

Although I understand the "...it would be wasting money we'll need for other things" argument, my wife considered it even more of a priority than I that we have enough land to buffer from the effects of the mainstream (agri)culture. For her, it was far more important to reduce health insurance outlays and put the savings into land. Fortunately we both enjoy having the extra wild space that straddles a natural waterway and provides at least some small zone 5-ish refuge for local wildlife both during and outside of hunting season.
 
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I'm really glad this topic was brought up - I've been worried about it. It seems like what is happening to zone 5 is a microcosm of what's happening to the planet!

Last year I went on a field trip around permaculture farms in France, and was looking over the PC design for one farm, and the first thing I do (as a landscape ecologist!) is look for zone 5. I couldn't find it. Eventually I came across the statement, 'there is not such thing as zone 5 in France'. I was a bit dismayed that such an attitude would exist, especially among that rare beast, the professional PC designer. Taken to its logical conclusion, if we all lived in such permaculture designs there would be no space for nature on the planet. It seems that, just as with other land-use systems, the population density is getting higher and nature is getting squeezed out.

In early days of PC I heard it said that it was advisable to leave 80% of the land area for zone 5, and I have even seen a commercial PC development which aimed to do this, at least when it began. More recently we've had EOWilson's 'half the planet', and I've heard some empirical evidence that this may indeed be about right, at least for birds. Globally, there is a 17% target for protected areas, which has almost been met, but it has become clear that this is nowhere near sufficient to maintain biodiversity, and we don't really know about ecosystem function.

In terms of what we're meant to do in zone 5, I think that, like everything else in PC, it depends where you are and what you have on the property. If there is remnant bushland in the zone 5 then it can be managed for nature conservation purposes, which might include management of fire and invasive species. Degraded areas may have the potential to regenerate, depending on how long they've been degraded for and how far they are from natural areas. If they are isolated, severely degraded or degraded over the long term, then restoration may be necessary. The important thing is that the resources in this area are not appropriated for human use. That doesn't mean you can't hunt there, but that will depend on whether an apex predator is necessary in the system to maintain ecosystem function.

Cheers,
Rowan
 
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This is a fascinating thread. Thanks to Tyler for starting it and for pointing it out to me.

I would like to bring up the idea of Zone 5 for those of us with just a small amount of space and more in town than many of you with several acres or more. We are semi-rural but land in California is expensive. So we only have a 1/2 an acre. But the location is such that we have deer, coyotes, bobcats, and even mountain lions (recent siting, just one street over from us.) And of course all the other critters that go along with country life (raccoons, opossums, skunks, etc.) Hawks and owls and so many birds. Etc. Etc. It was the reason we moved here - it was still close enough for hubby to commute to the Silicon Valley but country enough for us to work to create habitat and enjoy nature.

When we lived in the city we cultivated native plants on our small city lot and felt that we were helping to create wildlife corridors from our place to other suburban yards that were doing the same thing with plants. Out here at the new place, same thing on a larger scale. We do have a fence around the property so the deer and mountain lions cannot get into the small backyard but they can certainly travel the perimeter. Our place has nothing wild left in it save 5 old oak trees. So it is up to me to become a good steward of the earth and try to revitalize it as best I can. The frontage and side roads will all be replanted with native plants to this area and then left for the big critters. I can imagine, as I age, moving one of the fences to shorten my human zone and create a larger zone 5.

Within the fence my goal is to have it mostly all zone 5, with small pockets for us. Stacking will really help with that. I can plant for pollinators and birds right near the fruit trees and it is win win all around. Once I get the water works in place, and the native plants established, I should be able to let my zone 5 go wild. I estimate I will need about 5 years to get to that point.
 
Tyler Ludens
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One really interesting concept for me is the use of edible native plants, so they can be in the zones of human use but still serve as habitat for native wildlife. Several of our native wildflowers have edible parts, and I plan to explore that more as I plant more natives here at our place. I'll be including our native Devil's Claw in our dinner tonight. It has a weird edible pod thing, and was produced commercially for pickles back in the earlier parts of the previous century.

devil-sclaw.jpg
[Thumbnail for devil-sclaw.jpg]
 
Susan Taylor Brown
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Ooh and that Devil's Claw is a pretty plant to boot!

We were just getting to the point where our edible native plants were beginning to bear fruits and nuts when we sold the old place (thankfully to someone who wanted to continue the native garden.) I had thimbleberry, twinberry, hazelnut, native strawberry...shoot can't remember what else. I brought some thimbleberry and native strawberries with me but they are all still in pots. I hope I can keep them alive until fall.

There is this great native plant nursery, Middlebrook in San Jose that teaches a lot of classes on edible natives. Several times a year they hold a "feast" and a local chef cooks an entire meal using native plants. Each time I read the menus, I learn more about what I can plant for both me and the critters.
 
John Weiland
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@Tyler L: Re: "....use of edible native plants, so they can be in the zones of human use but still serve as habitat for native wildlife."

Two additional items of this type that I'm curious about, even as they are not natives. Honeyberries are related to honeysuckle, yet the latter are considered to be poisonous (?) for human consumption. Is there a honeysuckle out there bred to be edible for humans?....Clearly the birds do fine by them. Until a recent internet search, I had always read that Caragana arborescens ('siberian pea tree') was non-edible as well,....but have found other reports that it is. THAT bush really grows well here, but I've never grazed off of it out of toxicity concerns. Any experience or opinions on these?
 
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I'm thrilled to see this thread, because I've noticed this trend myself. And I'm thrilled that so many of you ARE keeping a large Zone 5. I always encourage permaculture design clients (and friends, students, etc.) to aim to keep 50 to 80 percent, or more, of their land as Zone 5, even if their land is just an acre or two. We have MANY "best practices" available to minimize the footprint of the most human-intensive zones. We can employ vertical gardening, espaliers for fruit trees, chicken "condo" towers, and so on. We can even stack (overlap) zones. They don't strictly have to be concentric circles.

In an urban setting where space is limited, two neighbors can collaborate in creating a shared orchard (as just one example). And even a high-rise-dweller can have a Zone 5.
 
Jenny Nazak
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K Putnam wrote:I'd really love the blackberries gone



Uh ... What's that address again? LOL
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I've noticed a little drift in permaculture zones, away from Mollison's original conception, a trend toward moving the zones of human influence outward until there is no zone in which human use is not the primary function, that is, turning Zone 5 into Zone 4, and thereby eliminating Zone 5.  

In the Designer's Manual, Mollison discusses the Zones in terms of information and ethics... ...

Mollison describes Zone 5 in this way:  "We characterise this zone as the natural, unmanaged environment used for occasional foraging, recreation, or just let be.  This is where we learn the rules that we try to apply elsewhere."


Here's my thought for why we're seeing both fewer Permie-book references to the Zone 5 concept and fewer conversations related to it:  In the last 15 or 20 years, a far higher proportion of people who have been attracted to Permaculture (or their notion of it) are living in suburban-lot situations.  A house and front & back yards.  I don't blame these people for trying to do something positive in the situation they're actually residing in, but suburbs are usually situations utterly removed from genuine wildness.  These people often feel fortunate if their neighbors or civic authorities aren't nagging & ridiculing them about how they're keeping their yard !

Both book authors and publishers like to sell books.  The light-green permie conceptions sell to a niche in the marketplace. The deep, dyed-in-the-wool Permie type person already has her/his living situation plus has her/his shelves of reference books.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The conversations I've noticed are among people with acreage, who are homesteading, ranching, farming.  They are the ones I see pushing Zone 5 away to some other place, not on their land. In many cases they are the ones most capable of rewilding many acres of land, but may have a philosophical issue with the concept.

I don't think suburbanites can be expected to have "true" Zone 5, but even the smallest yard can have a corner devoted to wildness.  Creating wild patches and corridors through human settlement is vitally important to the nurturing of ecosystems and the critters that depend on them.

"New research shows that small habitats can add up to a big difference."  https://www.audubon.org/magazine/july-august-2013/how-create-bird-friendly-yard

 
Joel Bercardin
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Tyler Ludens wrote:The conversations I've noticed are among people with acreage, who are homesteading, ranching, farming.  They are the ones I see pushing Zone 5 away to some other place, not on their land. In many cases they are the ones most capable of rewilding many acres of land, but may have a philosophical issue with the concept.


Yes.  Well, that isn't so much the case in a lot of the intermountain region of BC. Coming right up to residents' fences, it's pretty wild in most of this region (valleys in the mountain chains to the west of the Rocky Mountains).  This is essentially a forested region.  To be sure, ecosystems have been impacted by mining, land clearing, and logging on some of the sloped land above the valley bottoms.  But a lot of the land that has been affordable in past decades — though, it's become more expensive — has been semi-wild, with countless mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, vascular plants, fungi.

This isn't flatland.  But I do know that many people in the more open farming and ranching regions of North America became wary of 'too much wild'.  Keeping crops & livestock from being reduced or killed by wild creatures was important for financial reasons, and before that for reasons of subsistence, so that has been a multi-generational attitude & tradition.  "Wolves kill sheep and calves"... "Mountain lions can kill your child".  That sort of thing.  My own grandparents looked at farming/ranching "good sense" that way.  Your observations, Tyler, of what is feasible with current understanding of wild nature and fresh attitudes would be interesting to hear.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:The conversations I've noticed are among people with acreage, who are homesteading, ranching, farming.  They are the ones I see pushing Zone 5 away to some other place, not on their land. In many cases they are the ones most capable of rewilding many acres of land, but may have a philosophical issue with the concept.

I don't think suburbanites can be expected to have "true" Zone 5, but even the smallest yard can have a corner devoted to wildness.  Creating wild patches and corridors through human settlement is vitally important to the nurturing of ecosystems and the critters that depend on them.

"New research shows that small habitats can add up to a big difference."  https://www.audubon.org/magazine/july-august-2013/how-create-bird-friendly-yard



I can say for my little slice of homesteading, I enjoy the wild and wont ever push it all back from my 40 acres. My place was raw land, only used for a little camping and hunting. Only "improvement" made by man was the road coming in, and a not level pad. Everything else was pretty wild. I have spent the last 3 yrs pushing back the wild here and there just to have access to different parts of the property. When I do this, I follow the natural game trails, giving the game a bit better path. I try not to over do it, and I am trying to look for areas to preserve and others to work. Trying to keep a nice balance of all running through out the property. There are still areas of my property where the brush and trees are so thick I still haven't after 3 yrs been able to get into the area to really check it out. But that is ok. Likely those are the areas I will end up leaving wild. Though I might at some point push my way in just to have a peak to know what is there.

I do have to say there are some wild areas, that really do need a bit of a helping hand from humans though. I have a lot of young trees all on top of eachother choking eachother out that really need thinning. Which I have been doing here and there as I can. I also have a lot of dead lower branches that need to be taken down, to open the forest for game and to lower the wild fire threat. Which again I have been doing here and there as I can. Both however are huge jobs. So it is a chip a little away here then come back or move to another area another time and do some more. Now it could be argued that these need doing because some human interfered at some time in the past, and the wild is not necessarily a complete wild but a misshapen restoration after human intervention. Which I can see as valid since at some point the area had been logged, though thankfully my property was left with quite a bit of the older growth trees. So I do have a wide variety of tree ages on the property. But the young ones need some help.

My point is there are times I feel nature can use a little helping hand, we seem to forget we humans are part of nature. Native tribes had been modifying and altering the forests, plains, deserts, of the world since the beginning. Not like the current system is. But in gentle ways that go with the rest of nature. Like the beaver making a damn in a river, or buffalo churning up the prairie, the pig creating the wallow. Humans have been a helping hand and should not completely remove themselves from this role. Though it is important to actually understand how to work with nature and not impose your self upon it. Which I think is the big issue, and why zone 5 was such a big deal back in the day. It was a place to observe what nature did for itself, so we could mimic it. It was the college level class on how to be one with the land. A knowledge system and skill we from western civ have lost so very much. But we humans existed 100's of thousands of yrs with nature as a part of it. We can do it again.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Devin Lavign wrote:
My point is there are times I feel nature can use a little helping hand, we seem to forget we humans are part of nature. Native tribes had been modifying and altering the forests, plains, deserts, of the world since the beginning. Not like the current system is. But in gentle ways that go with the rest of nature. Like the beaver making a damn in a river, or buffalo churning up the prairie, the pig creating the wallow. Humans have been a helping hand and should not completely remove themselves from this role. Though it is important to actually understand how to work with nature and not impose your self upon it. Which I think is the big issue, and why zone 5 was such a big deal back in the day. It was a place to observe what nature did for itself, so we could mimic it. It was the college level class on how to be one with the land. A knowledge system and skill we from western civ have lost so very much. But we humans existed 100's of thousands of yrs with nature as a part of it. We can do it again.



Yes, I agree.  For instance, the North American Prairie ecosystem, one of the most diverse on the planet, was probably created by the interaction of grass, humans and wolves, fire, and bison.  The humans periodically setting fires allowed the grass to flourish and kept the forest at bay.  The Chestnut forests of Eastern North America might have been largely created by humans, as well as large parts of the Amazon rainforest.
 
Devin Lavign
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Tyler, exactly. When in the propper mindset we humans are just another natural part of nature.

Our big problem these days is culturally we have worked so hard to see ourselves as outside nature. We forgot we are a part of it and so behave so counter to it it is damaging.

Which is why zone 5 is important, and back in Mollison's creating the zones so critical. Zone 5 is where you learn what your native wild space likes and how it functions. While there is some conservation etc... in why he created zone 5. They biggest reason I feel was to have the actual example of a true natural system you could check in with and mimic in other zones on your property.

At least this is my take on the zone 5 issue.
 
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This whole question occurred to me the other day as I was walking a gully that went from my property on to the neighbors which then goes back onto my property and feeds  water into the east pond. The coyotes obviously heard me and we're running up out of the Gully when I saw them. I had disturbed their sleep. Except for hunting season and perhaps searching for the occasional missing cow or horse, I doubt the tenant and the neighbor ever go down in the gullies.

I have been thinking about putting my little house on the north end of the property because there are no gas pads there. But perhaps I will reconsider. Or, instead of putting it partially in the middle of the North acreage, I will put it on the Edge by the road., thus leaving more of a buffer between me and the Wild Gully areas.

I'm on the Prairie in Western Oklahoma and having just arrived in the area. I drive to the farm on all the different back roads , exploring as I go. I am truly astonished at how much land  there is, and the fact that it is mostly used for cattle with bottom land being used for farming. I just had no idea of the breadth of agricultural use of the land out here. And I've lived in these parts off and on my whole life., but mostly in the city. The good land I imagine all gets used for cattle and farming, my great-grandparents didn't get here early enough to get good land so "the farm" as the family calls it is up on the breaks, or the upper watershed, between two small rivers.  So one side gullies off to the North and the other side gullies off to the South. Those gullies both frighten and charm me. I worry about erosion, but perhaps they've been like that for a hundred years already. But the other day I found the spring that was used my great Grandparents at the head of the Gully near the Old Homestead. That Gully has running water and Reeds and cattails and racoon and I'm not sure what else because I can't tell this time of year.

If you're interested in my thread it's called  Re-homesteading in the Dust Bowl.

 
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