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DAY 5: Permaculture Design Certificate Course 2010 with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton

Circle Celtic Tree of Life by foxvox (
Circle Celtic Tree of Life by foxvox (

Celtic people had it right. They understood the magical nature of trees and their essential role in the landscape. Bill Mollison said today, “All trees work hard. None of them are lazy. Sometimes they even sweat.”

Today we talked a lot about trees, their interaction with wind, rain, temperature and landscape in general. Here are some notes:

  • Trees catch about 60% of rain fall and use it for their needs. In other words, when it rains, only 40% of water actually reaches the ground layer (called throughfall), but the water that does go through is full of nutrients, such as phosphates and nitrates.
  • Rain direction near a tree is affected by wind patterns, thus making one side of a tree very moist and the other dry.
  • Forests also capture about 40% of wind (the other 60% blows above and around the forests). This wind energy completely dissipates after 100m into the forest. It doesn’t come out, and there is no wind inside the forest, but it rises the air temperature by 2 decrees Celsius.
  • Cutting tress in an area decreases rainfall by 40% due to removal of water-pumping machines that trees are, and also because tree leaves (and all vegetation) harbour bacteria that causes clouds to resolve into rain.

Bill Mollison Quotes on Trees

“Everything we do to stop rain is evil. That is the true definition of evil.”
“Foresters know bugger all [nothing] about forests. They know about wood.”
“Big things happen occasionally. Little things help.”
“Be rich in water. Trees love it.”

Dinner at Hogwarts: the Only Thing Missing is Owls

Dining Hall
Dining Hall

Wednesday night we had a dinner set up at the Dining Hall, where we had a chance to mingle and get to know each other. Geoff said, “You have 10,000 years of experience amongst yourselves. Use it.” What he means is that each of us has lived a life and learned from others, and collectively we make up 10,000 years of experience.

We had an assortment of fresh spring rolls with a side of fiery-hot conversations. There are people of all kinds of trades doing the course. A representative of Zeitgeist group, a man with one leg who does martial arts who doesn’t use crutches, teaches, artists, architects, philosophers, a mother of three (with kids present).

Bill Mollison speaking with students at dinner
Bill Mollison speaking with students at dinner

We talked late into the night, and even then it seemed not enough. Then walking through the city home or to class, I started to run into the people from the course. A bit eerie…this kind of intellectual entanglement, but fantastic at the same time.

The Path of Human Evolution?

human evolution?
human evolution?

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I am seeing patterns everywhere now. During this morning’s walking to the class I found this interesting stencil. Makes you think, doesn’t it…

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