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Succession in Permaculture Designing

Updated: May 16, 2023

Plant succession stages

Pic credits: @sheriamsel

Mature ecosystems are more diverse and productive than young ones.

Plant succession is nature's play of evolving over the time. Living systems usually advance from immaturity to maturity, and if we accept this trend and align our designs with it instead of fighting it, we save work and energy.

Plant succession

Plant succession or Ecological succession can be defined as the gradual change in the species community in a given area over the period of time. A bare land in one season is taken over by grasses, then by shrubby weeds and few trees. They are the pioneer species that help build the soil structure and turn the land into habitable for other species. Eventually more species comes and finally reaches a climax mature ecosystem with limited changes. The process can take up to years or decades depending upon many factors. Succession begins when an area is partially or completely disturbed and vegetation is lost.

How to collaborate with succession in Permaculture Designing?

As natural succession is a slow process, there are methods to accelerate succession by collaborating with nature . Eventually we can create a productive ecosystem in few years.

○Soil building is a crucial step in succession. Natural soil building process will take years to form one inch of soil. Enriching the organic content in the soil creates habitat for the soil life and this accelerates the soil building organisms to prepare soil.

○Water is another important component for life. Water recharging can be done using water harvesting structures and mulching or growing cover crops.

○ Weeds are pioneer species that naturally builds the soil structure. The weeds can be removed and added back to the soil before fruiting stage as organic matter. Substituting pioneer species with useful plants of same function can benefit us and the land

○Initial plantation of hardy and tolerant species will help creating a suitable environment for other plants to grow and flourish.

○Planting supportive and nutrient enhancing species will accelerate the growth of productive species.

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