Designing regenerative landscapes for wildfire ecologies, with Erik Ohlsen, founder of Permaculture Artisans: 123

Erik Ohlsen for Abundant Edge.png

Today we’re back with Erik Ohlsen, founder of both Permaculture Artisans, one of the preeminent ecological landscaping companies in the US, and the Permaculture Skills center a vocational training school that offers advanced education in ecological design, landscaping, farming, and land stewardship. Erik is also the author of several books including “The Forest of Fire,” Activate Your Joy,” and most recently “The Ecological Landscape Designer” an essential manual for anyone aspiring to make a living in eco- design.

Though it’s long overdue, I spoke with Erik to get to better understand the intensity of the wildfires that have ravaged California and parts of the western US in recent years, and the factors that caused them. Erik explains how fire can be a regenerative force for the ecology of many forests and how the indigenous people of the western United States have managed fires strategically for thousands of years. We talk about how communities can work together to manage the risks of their ecosystems and avoid the catastrophic damage that fires have caused in previous years. 

We also explore some of the wisdom and lessons that Erik has learned in more than 20 years running his permaculture landscaping business and the challenges of meeting clients needs while including the holistic health considerations of nature. 

Like many of the more seasoned and experienced professionals that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to on this show, Erik shys away from making specific recommendations for techniques or designs and encourages people to cultivate a deeper understanding of their place and context before making assumptions about how to manage their land or even businesses. This is a great episode for people looking to better understand fire-prone ecologies, but also for people who enjoy the challenge of considering a deeper understanding of their relationship to natural systems in general.

Resources:

Listen to Erik’s first interview with Abundant Edge

Erik’s website

Permaculture Artisans

The Permaculture Skills Center

Get the book “The Ecological Landscape Designer”