Can a nearly 300 acre park, damaged by poor maintenance and environmental factors be brought back to life with permaculture? Geoff Lawton goes to Malaysia to help make it happen.
Taman Pertania Kuantan today is a heart breaking example of how a shared community space can become damaged by lack of care and lack of knowledge. The state-owned park was long a favourite place for residents to gather, and it’s easy to see why. Fruit orchards, abundant fishing, and simply the chance to enjoy the outdoors in a sprawling park that had sufficient infrastructure to make exploring and experiencing it convenient and fun.
The wet tropics, which Malaysia is classified as, being right on the equator, is a difficult place to maintain the type of balance that this incredibly beautiful park requires to thrive. At least, it’s difficult without a permaculture design oriented mindset, which is exactly why Geoff Lawton was called upon to visit the park and give his recommendations. That call came from the Crown Prince of the state of Pahang, in which the park is located, thanks to the efforts of a local permaculture design group.
Geoff visited for a mere two days—but he used that time to thoroughly explore the park and to come up with a basic plan for its revival. And, in true permaculture fashion, that plan will result in a park that is as sustainable as possible. From redesigning the greywater and blackwater removal systems for buildings on the site to designing earthworks to protect the park’s waterways from the excessive silt that has built up from the loose practices of nearby developments, Taman Pertania Kuantan will become an example of what permaculture can accomplish on a large scale.
Best of all, this beautiful park, with its wetlands, waterways, recreation areas, orchards, and even a strip of natural jungle, will remain open to the public. It will be a living example of all that permaculture can give—and in this case, return to the community something it had lost. The park was most celebrated for its fruit orchards, and returning that to the public in the form of a permaculture fruit forest is a top priority.
Permaculture on a Large Scale
Many of the non-permaculture related officials and advisors were impressed with Geoff’s ability to draw out rough sketches of what could be possible in the park after only a day of exploration.
But Geoff explained that it is less a talent than a skill. Knowing and understanding permaculture design—for those who are passionate, invested, and experienced—simply allows one to see how it can be applied at any scale. That’s due to permaculture design’s fundamentally practical nature. Certainly, scaling up presents challenges, but the basic premises of permaculture design apply whether the area is a 30 square meter yard or a 300 acre park.
And of course, resources are already beginning to present themselves. Two universities have offered researchers to assist in soil and water testing, among other tasks, while the architecture departments have students prepared to assist in the drafting of new facilities.
This is an ambitious project, to be sure, and it will require a bigger budget, greater commitments, and dedication on an equally large scale. Taman Pertanian Kuantan Park is a perfect example of what permaculture can and should be accomplishing, and the lasting effects of its transformation will give the community (and the surrounding environment) benefits that are truly priceless.
There is more great news about this project upcoming, watch this space!