A large scale concept of zones of land use was developed in the 1970's by the Greek architect and planner, Constantinos Doxiadis. In his scheme there are twelve zones of land use ranging from the most natural to the most human modification. (Ekistics, June 1976)


Zone One

Real wildlife and virgin areas. Only open for scientific research.

Zone Two

Wildlife visited. Man can enter without machines but does not stay.

Zone Three

Wildlife embraced. Man enters and stays in temporary camps or boats but without machines.

Zone Four

Wildlife invaded. Man enters and stays in permanent camps but without machines.

Zone Five

Wildlife conquered. Man controls in order to both protect and enjoy area. Small settlements.


Zone Six

Nonindustrial food production. Traditional agriculture and fishing.

Zone Seven

Industrialized food production. Intensively cultivated areas with regulated climate, water supply.


Zone Eight

Physical life. Man lives close to nature but has facilities for sports and entertainment.

Zone Nine

Low-density city. Small settlements with complement of commercial and service establishments.

Zone Ten

Middle-density city. The normal human built-up area.

Zone Eleven

High-density city. Central business districts.

Zone Twelve

Heavy industrial and waste disposal areas.

The concept of zones in permaculture guides the location of elements as they are related to sector forces. A zone is a unit of land determined by its requirements for energy or time use. The more energy or time needed, the closer in toward the actual center of site activity (usually the house) and the lower the zone number. We radiate out from most intense to least intense need, from most controlled to most wild.

Zone I

the person, the self. It includes our body and our personal space.

Zone O

the main living structure.

Zone 1

the area closest to the living structure including auxiliary buildings and storage, greenhouses and vegetable and herb gardens needing the most care or providing the bulk of immediate food needs.

Zone 2

might be orchards, small animals and cash crops needing a little less care.

Zone 3

might be areas for aquaculture, pasture, low maintenance nut trees and things that need only seasonal attention.

Zone 4

might be rough pasture, timber, and wildcraft collecting areas that need little attention and infrequent visits.

Zone 5

wild areas for plant and animal observation and occasional low level harvesting.

While in diagram form we might see these as pure and concentric zones moving out from Zone 1 to 5, in reality they can become more mixed. For example we might have a Zone 5 wildlife corridor cutting across other site zones or we might have an isolated Zone 2 use in a Zone 5 wild area. All site designs do not have to have all zones. But, even an urban site might have "representatives" of each zone as a symbolic commitment to the permaculture idea.