Permaculture IV VSS107

Bring all of your knowledge of sustainable landscaping and permaculture together

  • to design appropriate, sustainable, productive landscapes
  • to broaden your appreciation and understanding of the world around you
  • to develop a career or business in permaculture


This course is split into ten lessons as follows:

  1. Overview of Permaculture: Definition of Permaculture, understanding plant names, environmentally safe pesticides, zones, sectors and cycles in Permaculture design

  2. Buildings and Permaculture : The alternatives, Indoor/outdoor buildings, storage facilities, building materials

  3. Buildings and Permaculture : Integration into the Environment, Essential elements for houses in different zones, energy conservation, alternative energy sources

  4. Waste Disposal: Liquid waste, grey water, black water, waste disposal and recycling, nitrogen in waste

  5. Recycling: Composting, waste water recycling, conservation and recycling, council recycling

  6. Designing for Natural Disasters: Fire, flood, cyclone, tsunami, biotecture

  7. Natural Watering: Water efficient gardens, mosquitoes, windmills

  8. Indigenous Plants and Animals: Wildlife management, birds in the garden, suitable native plants

  9. Preparing Management and Development Plans: Planning and managing a garden, Permaculture design, work schedules

  10. Major Design Project: A in depth design project for both your own residence and another property

Course Duration  - 100 hours


Biodiversity Underpins Good Permaculture

One principle of permaculture is diversity. In a permaculture system you should grow a variety of different plants together. This ensures greater biological stability. For example, using beans in permaculture helps fulfil this important principle because beans have multiple functions – they help improve soil fertility and can also be harvested for food.

The size, shape, density, arrangement and diversity of plants influences:

  • Temperature - plants make air and soil temperatures cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  • Water - soil is less likely to dry out under a tree canopy.
  • Wind - direction can be changed, strength can be reduced.
  • Deciduous trees - lose their leaves in winter creating different environmental effects across seasons. 
  • Frost - there is far less chance of frost alongside other plants, or under the canopy of plants.

Learn to Plan a System that is Constantly Changing but Not Degrading

A permaculture system is a design that strives to achieve some degree of natural regeneration; so it is important to understand this concept.  You may not ever achieve a perfect, 100% sustainable permaculture system, but by applying the principles of permaculture and the things you learn in this course, it is possible to come closer to sustainability than what you have done previously.

As an environment degrades, the living plants and animals within them are faced with a depletion of resources; in effect, a different set of resources to live with. They must either adapt, or their populations change (or, in the extreme, disappear). Such changes in populations will in turn result in a further degradation and impact upon the stability of other aspects of the environment. In essence, everything is interlinked and inter-dependent.

If the influence of man is withdrawn from any environment, given time, nature will usually return to some sort of balance. The mix of species may vary from what existed originally, but the environment would stabilise.

The question therefore arises whether it is preferable for man to attempt to create or fabricate an environment, or alternatively allow a degraded landscape to rehabilitate itself (i.e. largely let nature do the job).


  • The conservation ethic - Is it more ethical to let nature take its course, or to take control over nature? The traditional way of Western civilisation has been to take control but many today would consider it more ethical to work more with nature rather than in spite of it.
  • Aesthetics - Some say we cannot let nature go uncontrolled because of aesthetic consequences. For others who see greater beauty in nature, it is more aesthetic to let nature take its own course. In essence, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Practicalities - Degradation may have reached a point where human interference become essential if for no other reason, for public welfare. It may be impractical to leave an eroded roadside to the forces of nature, as the result may be a serious accident.
  • Level of interference - Some say that access/use of an area by people must be controlled (reduced or limited) to a carefully determined level, to ensure a recovery/rehabilitation occurs.
  • Cost - Continued degradation may result in long-term costs through reduced productivity or usefulness of both the site concerned and other sites which the degradation could eventually effect.

Fabricated landscapes are attractive and will almost certainly continue to exist. They are however expensive to maintain. A more cost effective way is to work with nature, rather than against it; managing land to maintain or re-establish self-sustaining natural systems.

All living organisms require a minimum amount of space to maintain a stable population. As such, size is critical in any attempt to sustain or rehabilitate a natural landscape. If the area is not big enough, some of the animals or plants within that ecosystem will disappear in due course. 

An individual plant may only need a small area to survive but for generation after generation to survive, a greater area must be populated so that there are always other plants which can repopulate when one plant dies through old age, or from damage by animals, fire or some other natural event.
It is unlikely that you can develop a truly natural environment in any small area. It may be an environment fabricated to appear natural; but it won't really be natural. 

Natural Revegetation Relies On Succession

Plant communities change over time in response to changes in the environment. The process of changes is called succession. Plant community succession leads through a sequence of different community types to a stable plant community suitable for the environment. The stable part of the succession is called a climax community. 

Rainforest - An Example of a Climax Community

Succession that started on a place where plant community was completely destroyed as a result of fire, volcanic activity etc. is called primary succession.  If environmental impact didn’t kill the community completely (i.e. land clearing, climate changes, etc.) and some elements of the old community are participating in the succession, this process is called secondary succession. Successions caused by internal ecosystem factors like overgrazing etc. are called autogenic successions. Allogenic successions are caused by external factors (flood, fire, land clearing etc.).

After a big disturbance a ruderal community is formed. The plants in the community are pioneers that can tolerate harsh environmental conditions and can propagate and grow fast, but they are not very competitive. After a sequence of intermediate communities, a climax community typical for the conditions is formed. A climax community can consist of competitors (in good environmental conditions) or stress tolerators. 


This course is designed for someone who already has a PDC or a very solid understanding of permaculture.

  • If you have completed our Permaculture I, II and III - this is a natural progression from those courses.
  • If you have completed Permaculture Systems and Advanced Permaculture, you may consider moving to this course after those two.


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Fee Information (S3)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $834.96  1 x $759.05
B 2 x $451.44  2 x $410.40

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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