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Types of resources

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Permaculture analysis identifies several types of resources, wealth, or assets. This analysis departs significantly from conventional economics.

Time scale[edit]

Shann Turnbull developed a model for describing a variety of assets, of which he stressed the importance of "durable" or "regenerative" assets.[1] Bill Mollison modified Turnbull's typology for Permaculture: A Designer's Manual.[2]Mollison identified five types of resources:

  1. Degenerative: assets that wear out or break down over time. Includes: vehicles, buildings, furnishings, appliances, and electronics.
  2. Generative: assets which wear out, but are also used to process raw materials or repair other items. Includes: saws, lathes, grinders, etc.
  3. Regenerative: assets which wear out but create new resources. Includes: all organisms (animals, plants, fungi, etc.), and humus.
  4. Conservative: assets which help conserve other assets. Includes: insulation, dams, and storage areas.
  5. Informational: includes data and knowledge. Information can be embedded in various resources including organizations and seeds.

Systems that focus on regenerative, conservative and informational assets can build up wealth to spend on generative or degenerative assets. Too much focus on degenerative or generative assets will lead to pollution and depletion of the resource base. Different enterprises, local economies or bioregions should focus on which regenerative resources are abundant enough to be exchanged with other economic entities.

Eight forms of capital[edit]

Ethan Roland recently identified eight types of resources.[3] He terms these "capital," while a conventional economist might call them "factors of production". This model has quickly gained popularity within the permaculture community.

  1. Social: social connections and influence
  2. Material: physical objects from raw materials to buildings or vehicles
  3. Financial: money, stocks, bonds, securities, etc.
  4. Living: plants, animals, soil and water
  5. Intellectual: knowledge
  6. Experiential: experience in undertaking certain tasks
  7. Spiritual: attributes described according to various religions or spiritual paths
  8. Cultural: unlike the other seven, it can only be held on a communal basis

Some conventional economists identify "human capital". Roland sees human capital as a combination of social, intellectual, experiential and spiritual capital. Additionally, he identifies different currencies that each form of capital can take.

References[edit]

  1. Shann Turnbull, Democratising the Wealth of Nations: From new money sources and profit motives, chapter 2. http://cog.kent.edu/lib/TurnbullBook/TurnbullBook.htm
  2. Bill Mollison, Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, p. 534
  3. http://www.appleseedpermaculture.com/8-forms-of-capital/