Ecosystem Criteria (Ökosystemkriterien)
The ecosystem criteria are a set of 9 principles developed by the German permaculturists Lutz Wendeler and Volker Kranz in 2008. These criteria outline the basic characteristics of self-organising systems that can be found by comparing the structural similarities of these systems. I have taken the liberty of translating them into english – the original version (in german) can be found here.
Any type of symbiosis, e.g. between fungae and trees.
2. Boundaries or limitation
One ecosystem ends where another begins.
3. Resilience, Flexibility
The potential of change and the potential to respond to change.
The diversity of elements, but also the diversity of relationships between the elements.
5. Feedback (positive & negative)
Feedback is the regulatory element of a system (e.g. predator-prey interplay)
Systems and entities in the systems are never fully isolated and thus permeable to outside influences.
Every system has the potential to gain momentum.
The focus is not necessarily on the separate entities of a system, but on the interconnections between them.
9. Reciprocity, Interplay
How the different entities in the system influence each other through their connections and exchange of information.
The ecosystem criteria are especially useful for attaining a sense of the functioning of ecosystems, while they might be less suitable for technical planning.