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10,000 TREES
A Practical Response to Climate Change

Permaculture is a design strategy for the connection and combination of the four basic natural
elements – kept together and developed by a sustainable organisation – for the growth and
structuring of plant systems – and thereby the regeneration of natural resources.

The INternational PERMaculture COUncil


november 2009



• FORESTS p. 6


• FUNDING p. 8




This document have been worked out within the month of september and october 2009 – and
could not have reached the form it has without considerable support and help from
Kirsten Gamst Nielsen, Permakultur Denmark and Patzy Garrard and George Sobol,
Permaculture Britain – edited by Tony Andersen, Permaculture International


During International Permaculture Network discussions at the 8th International Permaculture Conference (IPC 8)
in Brazil, we decided to formulate a strategy for the climate change situation. It is all presented in the Pamphlet
INPERMCOU – on the website .

The initiative is based on the current and future climatic conditions of the planet, as well as a series of decisions
made at IPC 8, held in Brazil in June 2007. At the conference it was decided that the International Permaculture
Network should develop a strategy to mitigate the worst consequences of climate change. This was seen as
essential, especially in recognition of the fear that the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in
Copenhagen in 2009 was unlikely to bring forth any significant proposals to prevent, or even partially lessen,
damaging developments in the global climatic and ecological situation.

One of the most significant factors in the current immense and threatening developments is the reduction in
carbon sequestration, because of a weakening of the systems of carbon-binding in trees and soils, and the
declining ability of the oceans to absorb CO2. The first is because of deforestation and industrialised
agriculture, the second because of the weakening of ocean currents.

Therefore, in accordance with strategic Permaculture thinking, efforts will be focused primarily on building new
and varied forms of carbon sequestration - and on incorporating these strategies as a part of global efforts.

Permaculture is an ecological theory of analysis, planning and design which, in contrast to many other ecological
approaches, demands improvements in the natural resource base. In other words, the status of fertile land, fresh
water supplies, shelter from wind and energy accumulation would be improved after the preparation and
implementation of a Permaculture project. Also, the organisation engaged in the development and
administration of the project should possess characteristics and be structured in such a way as to ensure its long-
term sustainability.

Permaculture is organised as a strategy that not only ensures the (re)building of natural resources, it also
enhances food security for those involved. This is accomplished through a multitude of different types of
innovations characteristic of Permaculture projects, for example plantings: successive construction of forest
gardens, fruit and nut forests, agroforestry, resource forests and wild forests.

It is precisely these distinctive features that form the basis of our belief that Permaculture strategies are
applicable in the current situation - as they contribute to carbon sequestration and at the same time provide food
security for local populations.

Climate Change
There is no longer any doubt that the climate is changing. However, there are still disputes regarding the extent
of this change. Views vary from those that postulate that reductions in CO2 emissions are enough to salvage the
situation over the course of the next few decades, to those that argue that emissions are already so advanced that
the meltdown of the North and South Poles is imminent. The consequences of the latter are an irreversible
process which will change life on earth as we know it.

All experts do, though, agree that the direct cause is attributable to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These
are primarily comprised of CO2 and methane as well as increasing amounts of water vapours, all elements which
are directly connected to carbon and water cycles in the biosphere, forests, plant growth and algae.

Carbon sink
In addition to excessive use of fossil fuels, the causes of climate change are also attributable to the concurrent
destruction of the earth’s carbon-collecting structures and mechanisms. This involves slash-and-burn and other
forms of forest removal, as well as the indirect consequences of increasing temperatures, among the most
significant of which are the thawing of the permafrost layer and the weakening of deepsea currents.

As pointed out in the latest series of reports, from among others NASA’s Goddard Institute, it is not enough to
halt emissions. If ways are not found to reduce the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
dangerous, uncontrollable and irreversible developments are both imminent and probable.
What is required is the establishment of a series of carbon-sequestering structures for the replacement, and
possible regeneration, of that which has been lost - for example, by the planting of new trees and the protection
of remaining forests and wetlands.

More than 10,000 TREES per person per lifetime

As previously implied, the most important carbon-absorbing elements are linked with plant systems, whether
they are fossilized subterranean forms such as oil, natural gas or coal, or as forests, soils and algae. Besides
large-scale reductions in fossil fuel consumption, the areas where we can have the most direct influence are the
planting of trees and the improvement of soils.

In order to achieve an appreciable effect, a series of extensive plantings is required, as well as a general and
global strategy in all areas where the possibility of deforestation exists, or is probable in the future.

As early as the 4th International Permaculture Conference in Nepal in 1991, the idea of planting trees on a scale
of 10,000 trees per person was discussed. At current population levels this means planting 50,000,000,000,000
trees over the next ninety years.

One can imagine this taking place in areas which will be inundated by rising sea levels over the next few
centuries. In this way the inundated trees will provide a lasting carbon sequestration. Added to this, the planting
of forests, based on the principles of Permaculture, not only serves as a carbon repository - it also constitutes the
foundation of food production for the local population.

Less than 1 TON CO2 per person per year

To balance the situation on the global level, we need not only to create carbon sink processes, but also to
diminish our output of trace gases into the atmosphere. This is especially urgent now that the oceans are showing
signs of losing the capacity to absorb CO2, and the permafrost areas are thawing out, releasing their store of
CO2 and methane gases.

The experiences of Permaculture projects in Europe, North America and the developing world show that it is
possible to change people’s attitudes. For instance, by using alternative/appropriate technologies and by applying
the strategy of Bioregionalism in production as well as consumption, it should be possible to reduce our CO2
emissions to less than 1 ton per person per year, without losing comfort. To change current patterns of
overconsumption of carbon-based energy, use of such energy should be taxed to a degree that will put pressure
on people to rethink their lifestyles and adjust their behaviour. The taxation should be calculated nationally and
paid into international funds for the above-mentioned 10,000 trees Permaculture projects.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 / COP 15

In December 2009, Copenhagen will be the host of the UN Climate Change Conference, which has the
expressed purpose of establishing goals and guidelines for future developments after the expiry of the Kyoto
Protocol in 2012.

By that time, statements about the condition of the planet will most likely be even more frightening than they are
now and there will hopefully be a greater openness towards initiatives such as the one described here, which will
seem like an obvious way of remedying threats to the condition of our planet and perhaps to our own existence.

In line with the above, we suggest the following five proposals:

1. That a decision is made regarding the creation of a “Carbon Sink” category of land use, whereby areas
will be set aside for the purpose of carbon sequestration on a permanent basis, and that these areas will
be excluded from all forms of exploitation or trade.
2. That nations are encouraged to create legislation that would, if necessary, empower them to expropriate
areas for this purpose in accordance with international quotas.
3. That a decision is taken to set up an international system for taxing all consumption of more than 1 ton
CO2 per person per year – and to establish a tree fund for realising the 10,000 trees per person project.
4. That these proposals are discussed and drawn up for presentation as policies for ratification at the next
UN Climate Change Conference (COP 16) in 2012.
5. That a fund is created, via national and international organisations, to establish the economic resources
to implement these policies and, in accordance with the aforementioned principles, to run Permaculture

centres ultimately provided for by a levy paid in relation to the actual ratio of CO2 output per person.

Parallel activist and grassroots Conference

In order to shed light on these issues and to document their consequences and potential, we have called for a
conference for grassroots activists from all over the world. The conference will set out to advance information
about the state of the globe, not censored or regulated by the IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change) but presented by scientists and others, who are proving the seriousness of developments in the
ecological situation of the planet, with all its associated social, cultural and financial dangers.

The conference will offer information, exhibitions, workshops and presentations regarding these matters. And it
will give room for activists to present their point of view in actions and demonstrations. We expect thousands of
people from grassroots movements all over the globe to present their attitudes to the UN establishment, and to
discuss ways of action and priorities among themselves.

The area for this is planned to be at a big sporting and conference centre by the Copenhagen main train station:
the “DGI centre”, with the activist coordination and working area at the “Kulturstaldene” at Halmtorvet 13.
It can be reached through

The Permaculture Network

Permaculture was developed in Australia, in the 1970s, in response to the accelerating desertification which was
already taking place. It developed from a strategy for “Permanent Agriculture” to a strategy for “Permanent
Culture” which includes all types of human settlements.

Since then, the movement has spread to all corners of the earth, and today consists of projects, based in resource
centres, in every part of the world, and in every climatic zone. The network is unified by the 72 hour
Permaculture Design Course, which has the same core syllabus wherever it is run, and by regional, national and
international annual - and bi-annual conferences.

At the last conference held in Brazil in June 2007, it was decided to undertake a survey of all the the centres that
have been created and which possess regional, educational and technical capacities. According to first estimates,
there are 2-300 resource centres globally which have the capacity to run courses on a regular basis and the ability
to organise at a regional level, as well as countless centres with fully-developed Permaculture food production,
management systems and settlement models.

Experience indicates that such centres, given continually-increasing economic resources, would be able to
duplicate themselves every 4 to 5 years, and thus, in the course of 50 years, result in over 100,000 centres spread
throughout the globe - each with an estimated capacity for planting approximately 500,000 trees.

Added to this forests will be created, planted in coastal areas and in wetlands that will be flooded by storms and
rising ocean levels, and preserved as carbon sinks.


The climatic situation seems to be virtually out of control.
On Permaculture courses we talk about the 5 catastrophes:
1. the destruction of our topsoils
2. over-consumption of energy
3. pollution of the air
4. destruction of living water
5. breakdown of decision-making structures and social organisation
The last one is far the worst because it is the one that prevents us from taking responsible, realistic and efficient
decisions to alter our destructive course. Because of this there needs to be a special body formed under the UN
that will be able to reform the structure for decision-making regarding enviromental and climate problems. The
basis of such a body must be structures outside the free market and must have direct access to all governments
and local authorities, for setting up strategic guidelines for local development and management.

The problem with negotiating adequate measures at COP 15 shows up all the weaknesses of the current
structure, which is based on predominantly national interests and party-political-based decision-making, with
majority power and sectorised administration in a freemarket economy. These politically-structured societies
have brought us to the situation we are in now, with the environmental and climatic disasters that are developing
all over the planet.

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from 220 to 390 ppm during the last hundred years.
Currently the annual increase has reached 2.1 pmm per year, and is increasing exponentially – which means that
within the next 30 years the level will reach close to 440 ppm, and by the end of the century more then 550ppm.
Added to this, preliminary results from a Norwegian report from Bjerknesscenteret in Bergen show that the
globe’s ability to absorb CO2 will be reduced by 25%, because of the reduced capacity of the oceans and the
destruction of the forests. Furthermore, the release of trace gases from the dying boreal forests, which contain
22% of all landbased carbon plus hugh amounts of methane – that alone could result in 500 gt of carbon being
released into the atmosphere.

Within the next 30 years it is estimated that the release could be about 20% due to the rate of dying of the forests
– which means 100 gt of carbon initially which means that 500 gt CO2 will be released. The annual emissions at
present are about 30 gt CO2 per year, so what we can look forward to is a future annual surplus of at least 3 gt
CO2 pr year, 10% - and with an accelerating speed up to maybe 20 to 30 % within this decade. If the destruction
of forests and sea currents continues it seems possible that within the next century we might reach up to 700

A UN report in 2007 talks about the breakdown of virtually all the ecological systems and biomes on the globe
as a result of increase in temperatures:

At 2.4 degrees C increase, which happens at 390 ppm [which we have already reached] – the report says that the
Greenland and similar glaciers will break down and the coral reefs will be dying – this is already happening.
Up by 3.4 degrees, which correlates to 420 ppm, the Amazon forest will break down with disastrous fires, and
will be on the way to desertification.
Up by 4.4 degrees, which happenes at 450 ppm, the sea levels will have risen by 5 meters.
At 5.4 degrees, all ice on the globe disappears and the sea levels will rise by 70 meters. Agriculture, as we know
it, will be destroyed.
At 6.6 degrees, all the ocean currents will have stopped and the seas will be dying with the release of huge
amounts of methane. Most of life on earth will become extinct.

These scenarios show that, if the release of trace gases is not stopped and, furthermore, a mechanism for
extracting those already in atmosphere is not established, the result will be disastrous – not only for the
temperature but for all aspects of the enviroment. At a scientific conference in London this September 2009,
there were predictions of changes being triggered in the geology of the Earth - that extremes will precipitated,
constant storms, tsunamis, huge landslides, earthquakes and volcanic activity - all making the globe
uninhabitable. This will be triggered by the rapidly-rising and uncontrollable content of trace gases.

That is what also happened in the Palæozoic period 200-400 million years ago. The effect on the ecological
systems of the planet at that time was that the rising temperature and high content of CO2 triggered the variety
and growth of plants - with the resulting growth of huge forests, which formed the fossil fuels we are exploiting
today. What we need to do is duplicate this ecological solution - it is also the one that gave us our whole
biosphere: clean water, fertile soil, healthy air and, through plants, the energy and the food we need.

If the situation is not to get out of control, we need to cut our human-related
emissions down to 1 ton CO2 per person per yearbefore 2025 and before the
440 ppm level is reached

As mentioned previously, forests have the multiple functions that created the biosphere of the planet. They
created the fertile soil, the clean water, the healthy air and they produce material and fuel as well as food.
So as a reaction to the grave destruction of these basic ecological resources we have to start all over again – and
this time we have to do it consciously.

There is a lot of talk about inventing and developing mechanical means for the extraction of trace gases out of
the atmosphere, but two problems arise:- mechanical means do not work without more use of energy; and they
do not provide the whole spectrum of ecological regeneration.

So let us look at the forests. These are the basic elements of a Permaculture strategy – and they have therefore
been the basic elements developed globally by Permaculture projects over the last thirty years, in all the climatic
and geographical zones of the world.

Now that the main focus is climate change, we can start by looking at carbon fixing capacities.

The natural way of depositing carbon in the soil is through plant systems. That’s what has happened in all parts
of the globe. The table below shows the distribution of different biomes on the globe – and how the carbon is
distributed in plants and in the soil. These are in old forest. In newly-planted forest this takes years to regenerate:
in the tropics 60-70 years, in the temperate forest 100 to 150 years, in the boreal 200-300 years with deciduous
trees (conifers are for the time being dying at an accelerating speed), in grassland it will take a couple of hundred
years and will be dependent on large herds of grass-eating animals.

This needs massive treeplanting within the next 90 years (the strategy of the 10,000 trees) to cope with the still-
increasing release of trace gases into the atmosphere.

In the Permaculture context we only operate to a certain extent with full forest complexes, because we include
diverse biotopes, agricultural systems and settlements. These principles should be the guidelines for treeplanting,
to secure a positive impact on food resources, energy potentials, securing of water resources and increased
control of climate and wind conditions.

The strategies developed in Permaculture combine different systems in coherent designs, specific to the local
conditions and the capacities of the people involved, the social organisation. So, in Permaculture projects, we
take into account the fact that the calculations of carbon sequestration demand double the area normally needed
for forest in the temperate system and, in recognition of the denser potential in the tropics and the more open
potential in the boreal areas, we use that larger area as the general calculator for our climate change strategy.

Assuming a typical temperate forest, the total carbon stock is 15,300 tonnes/km2 of which 5,000 tonnes is
vegetation and 10,000 tonnes is contained in the soil. To sequester the annual emission in the current situation of
CO2 - approximately 30 billion tonnes (Gt) equivalent to 8.1 billion tonnes Carbon - an area of 535.163 km2
(France) should be established with forest.
From the IPCC report of 2000 dealing with land use, land use change and forestry, representative biomes from
various geographic ecological zones are presented in the following tables. Assuming a compact to reclaim 20%
of the global desert/semidesert land (0.9*109 ha) to forest (a potential of trapping 110 tons C/ha), a total of 100
Gt C could be sequestered.

Global Carbon Stocks (Gt C)

( 109 ha) Vegetation Soil Total
Tropical forest 1,76 212 216 428
Temperate forest 1,04 59 100 159
Boreal forest 1,37 88 471 559
Tropical grassland 2,25 66 264 330
Temperate grassland 1,25 9 295 304
Deserts/semideserts 4,55 8 191 199
Tundra 0,95 6 121 127
Wetlands 0,35 15 225 240
Croplands 1,60 3 128 131

Total 15,12 466 2011 2477

These figures reflect the fact that, in the first 10 % of their lifetime, the forests are establishing themselves. Some
survive, some die - and there will only be a small amount of carbon collected. In the next phase, the settling
phase, the next 80 % of the above-mentioned lifetime is in growth to a mature state. After that, when the forests
have reached maturity, they tend to go into balance, when the older plants start to die and the natural settling
process moves more slowly.

So we can propose a strategy for planting forests at a rate to cope with the total amount of CO2 in the
atmosphere, due to its emission from human activities, its release from boreal forest and its reduced absorption
by the oceans. According to the figures above, we have to capture 60 to 70 GT of CO2 per year more than we do
now, 30 to 40 GT within the next 30 years and the rest within the next 50 years.

This means planting forest over an area of 1,600,000 km2 - and, in line with Permaculture strategies where we
also demand food security, doubling this to 3,200,000 km2.

If the situation is be contained within the next 90 years, we have to plant

6,000 to 10,000 trees per person - and save all existing forests and wetlands
from destruction.


Besides creating processes to extract trace gases from the atmosphere, we still have to stop the man-made
pollution, mainly by CO2, from fossil fuels, industrial agriculture and deforestation. The problem of controlling
these causes of CO2 emissisons seems to be immense, and does not seem to have any chance of success in the
light of existing political decision-making structures. In the existing systems of credits and quotas in a open
market economy, it is nearly impossible to control or even to make calculations, and there are several examples
of fraud and miscalculations.

A less complex, less expensive, and less time-consuming system would be a tax system, a tax system that taxes
every output of CO2, calculated for the number of citizens/inhabitants nationwide. The tax could be set up as the
price of any ton of CO2 more than one ton per person per year and regulated nationally in the way that the
political decision-making system decides. For companies and international transportation it would apply to each
ton of CO2 emissions.

Regarding the exploitation of resources, the end consumer would have to pay the prices or taxes of the
exploitation – and not the country or region that possesses the resource.


The revenue that comes from these taxes could, for the person-related part, be divided up into two parts. An
national one that should be reserved for renovation, sustainable energy systems, developing enviromentally
sound traffic systems, etc.. The other half of the revenue shall be paid into a global fund controlled by the UN to
invest in sustainable development in areas most affected by climate change, in treeplanting and in food security.
At an estimated 100 € per ton, with 50 Gt CO2 output globally, this would give a total of 5,000 billion € to invest
per year.

According to estimates by the European Union, an amount of 100 billion per year would give some fair
compensation to the developing world. In Denmark that would mean that the nation would have to pay 1,000 €
per person for 5 million inhabitants, and a consumption of 11 ton CO2 per person per year. Altogether 5 billion -
with half, 2.5 billion, paid into a national fund for sustainable development and the other half, 2.5 billion, paid to
the international investment fund for treeplanting and food security. This is the same amount in € that Denmark
is today paying in $ to the developing world.


It is evident that the current dominant political and decision-making structures are not able to solve the crisis we
are facing - neither in the level nor the type of response. It is the global character and the structure of the open

free market system, the nature of the economy, that have brought us to this state and we therefore have to change
the fundamentals of that system.

The effects both of climate change and of the imbalance in earlier global developments have had different
consequences in different areas. Therefore it is crucial that any future decision-making structure should be
regionally-based, working in cooperation with the local population, and involving them in the implementation,
control and monitoring of developments appropriate to their local bioregional circumstances.

In order to achieve that, regional centres will have to be established to survey, analyse and plan for the potential
enviromental development. These regional centres should be working within the local decision-making
structures, and should include provision for educational, social and health services. Furthermore, these regional
centres will need to establish plant nurseries, to build their capacity to meet the demands for extensive planting
and other environmental initiatives across the whole ecological, strategic spectrum.

There are already many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), environmental groups and Permaculture
projects that will able to fullfill these tasks - as soon as they receive adequate financial support. Up to now these
existing centres of activity have been managed by, or in close cooperation with, local people with various kinds
of support, mostly from volunteer groups and other organisations. Their strength has been to demonstrate,
through their research and development work, that these things can be done. Their main challenge has always
been insufficient and/or irregular funding, which makes it difficult to plan for the long term and to get other local
and/or regional groups involved and committed to join the management structures.

The particular strength of Permaculture projects is that they are run by people who have received Permaculture
training. This offers people a system of design and a knowledge of ecological fundamentals, or eco-literacy,
which results in a knowledge of how to design sustainable systems. It shows people how to do it. It also gives
people the tools to prioritise and to manage the implementation of the design principally through local and
bioregional structures.

Adequate financial support can be introduced gradually, enabling these pioneering organisations to extend their
activities, to run courses on all the topics mentioned above, to start up agroforesty projects and to engage other
people in the wider bioregion, establishing more centres and projects. This would all be part of a wider training
programme for local communities so that they will have the capacity to take action.

The initiative for new projects should be taken by local people, organised in these new centres.

By initiating these new activities at such a rate, it is estimated that it should be possible to plant more than half of
the 10,000 trees per person per lifetime by the year 2025.


As far as planting strategies go, areas where deforestation has occurred naturally will be the focus as a starting
point. Then areas along the coasts will be the next priority - those less than 5 meters above sea level, where the
rise in sea level is already unavoidable. Here massive treeplanting will create a permanent storage of carbon,
when the trees are covered by water; in other words, carbon sequestration.

Areas of dying boreal forest and the tundras will also be of enormous importance for planting, especially if we
are to avoid the release of the enormous amounts of carbon and methane that are bound up in the soils there.

And finally open fields, marginal agricultural land, bushland and semideserts will be brought under management
as areas with great potential.

Permaculture has, within the last 30 years, experience of successful tree planting in all the areas and biomes
mentioned here.

To achieve this goal of planting 10,000 trees per person per lifetime a radical change in policy is needed, to
engage local people’s participation, rethink our priorities and change our understanding of society, communities
and their development.

This will result in a fundamental paradigm shift - towards decentralisation - cross-sectoral administration - basic
democratic structures - bioregional definition and autonomy.

Therefore, if we want to at least begin to control the climate crisis, we (the

United Nations of the world) must decide now that, within the next two years,
we will explore the precise nature of the current situation - as revealed by the
above-mentioned problems - and we must call for a decision to be made in
2012, at the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol, about this new paradigm of world

The International Permaculture Council

To assemble an international body for activating and implementing these goals we have formed a Council.
This consists of the hosts of the last six plus the upcoming International Permaculture Conferences.

These are:
- 1991 in Nepal, Prem Thapa –
- 1993 in Copenhagen, Tony Andersen –
- 1996 in Australia, Pat Dare –
- 2005 in Croatia, Tony Andersen, present Secretariate VesterGror –
- 2007 in Brazil, Ali Sharif –
- 2009 in Malawi, Mugove Walter Nyika –