Zone Five in Permaculture is designated as the ‘wild areas’. These are the areas which help to provide habitat for non-domesticated plants, animals, and insects. They also serve to supply us with the ‘template’ upon which all other Permaculture designs and patterns are based. Allowing for Zone Five areas is an important part of the designing process. For large sites this may allow opportunities for the re-growth of natural forest areas, hiking trails, sight seeing, eco-tourism, and outdoor education. For limited areas, such as in urban settings, zone five may simply consist of a natural hedgerow area or a cluster of small trees and bushes, but even these small areas provide immense benefits to the surrounding zones.
We recently spent a weekend at a game reserve called Kuti Wildlife Reserve. This experience helped to reconnect us not only to the beauty of natural areas (zone five), but to their functionality as well. We had wonderful interactions with wildlife such as zebras, impala, water buck, giraffe, many different birds, and even a meter-long monitor lizard. We were also able to observe how nature interacts with itself providing water management, healthy soil, habitat, food, and protection. These are lessons that we can all benefit and learn from and then incorporate into our own sustainable living systems.