What is the tenth principle of permaculture?

Use and value diversity.

Aldo Leopold once wrote, “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, ‘What good is it?’ … To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

More recently, Breitbart published an article titled “Animals That Aren’t Delicious or Useful Deserve to Be Extinct.”

The more scientists study ecology, the more they discover that every species is important. While some plants and animals are more crucial to the healthy functioning of their ecosystems than others, every species plays a role.

Since humans can’t survive without healthy ecosystems, this means that every species is useful to us. It is in our interest for every species to not just be present in its native range, but to be present in sufficient numbers to perform its function within the ecosystem.

If we want our yards to be functioning ecosystems – and we should, since for our own wellbeing we need healthy nature near where we live, and not just in a park somewhere – we need to welcome a diversity of species. We need tall grass to be distributed throughout the yard, playing its role of supporting wildflowers. One ornamental clump doesn’t do the job. We need plenty of bees to pollinate the flowers. We need predatory insects to limit populations of insects lower on the food chain, preventing them from eating all our plants. We need the occasional large predator to stop rabbits from doing likewise.

We may not like all these members of the community. We may not understand what some of them do. But they are all almost certainly doing something useful for us, and we will be much better off if we leave them to it.

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What is the tenth principle of permaculture?

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