About the guidebook

The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook – International Edition is a practical reference guide for implementing permaculture techniques that are specific to tropical climates across the world. It is being developed by respected East Timorese NGO Permatil (Permaculture Timor-Leste), xpand Foundation (Australian social enterprise working predominantly in Timor-Leste) and Disruptive Media (Design and strategic communications for the NFP/NGO sector).

The Guidebook is being created to expand and accelerate the understanding and application of practical permaculture on a global basis, especially in tropical regions. Designed as a training, programme and project base for a wide range of organisations, its use will improve the results of all permaculture/non-permaculture projects and is a complete tool for farmers and communities. 2000+ instructional illustrations ensures easy comprehension and the text is clear and complete.

The core ethos and vision of the original book – providing practical knowledge to anyone who reads it, especially in poor, low literacy and disadvantaged communities – is being retained and enhanced. As organisations and individuals we work directly with farmers, youth and community members; to provide education and skills that will improve peoples resilience and capacity to live a good quality life; to protect and repair our fragile environment and agricultural lands and to provide access to that information to everyone who needs it.

The guidebook reflects this; we have seen the benefits resulting from the original guidebook in Timor-Leste and we want create an even better guidebook that can improve Timor-Leste further and replicate those benefits across all tropical regions.

The 900+ page guidebook will be available in both electronic and hardcopy versions, first in English, with other language versions to follow.

The guidebook is divided into 3 volumes each with a specific theme:

Volume One: Permaculture and People

Volume Two: House and Gardens

Volume Three:  Regenerative Agriculture

Each Volume will contain an introduction and six chapters, with each chapter also linked to a complimentary reference section.

Sign up here for updates about the guidebook’s progress

Support our work to complete the guidebook through our crowd fund campaign



Swales and Terraces

Swales (on contour trenches and mounds) and terraces prevent erosion and help to hold organic matter and build up the soil over time. They are also vital for catching, holding and storing rain in the ground, which greatly increases and stabilises production of vegetable and tree crops and recharge underground water tables every wet season.


Bamboo Watering Pipe

This simple technology can make all the difference between success and failure for a tree. Installed when the tree is planted, the bamboo pipe directs water to below the root zone encouraging deep root growth. The water is used much more efficiently and there is no chance for weeds to steal it or the sun to evaporate it. It can be used for liquid fertilising too. Easy, effective and free!


What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is designing sustainably abundant societies as part of protecting and preserving water supply, agricultural land and the greater environment. The word is derived from Permanent Agriculture and Permanent Culture with the aim being to use practices that enable agriculture and culture to improve, strengthen and become healthier as time progresses.

Through permaculture we see the world in a new way. Permaculture provides the framework to design, create and maintain communities where all parts of our lifestyle achieve sustainability and resilience. Techniques and strategies are based on natural science and patterns, using integration, innovation and regenerative practices to achieve our goals.

The ethics of permaculture ensure that we are considerate and thoughtful in working with the environment, respecting all people and acting to improve the future. Permaculture’s principles encourage and challenge us to be creative, follow initiative and use our common sense.


Our journey


Perma-icon1The story so far…

The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook International Edition is a practical reference guide for implementing permaculture techniques that are specific to tropical climates. It is a gift of ‘permaculture knowledge’ from Timor Leste to the all the tropical regions and beyond.

The original guidebook it has grown from is the Permaculture Guidebook fromTimor-Leste. Produced by Permatil, a well respected Timor Leste NGO, it was first published in 2006 and republished in the Timorese language Tetum and English in 2008. It has since had three re-prints and has been an outstanding success.

The Department of Agriculture in Timor Leste has issued a copy to every extension officer, (approx. 450) and the Department of Education is using the guidebook as a reference to develop the social science and culture national curriculum.

International NGOs such as GIZ, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Concern International, Oxfam Australia and GB, Care International, Trocaire and Caritas have all utilised the guidebook for various programs including sustainable agriculture, livelihoods, climate resilience and health. UNTL (University National Timor Leste) uses the guidebook as a sourcebook for teaching the sustainable agriculture program.

The original guidebook was also translated and adapted for Indonesia by IDEP Foundation who re-published the guidebook as well as uploading it chapter by chapter in English and Indonesian. More than 200 000 chapters were downloaded in 2 years!

Since publication, the guidebook has also been copied and used in many different countries, including Sri Lanka, Samoa, Nepal, Australia, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Uganda and Haiti.

There are no complete tropical permaculture books available at this scale and nowhere near enough literature available for creating sustainable households and communities as well as environmental restoration, especially for developing countries. After reviewing how the guidebook has been obtained and used over the last 8 years it has become clear that a new edition, revised and expanded, will fulfill a huge need for indigenous and non indigenous, urban, rural and remote communities in all tropical and sub-tropical regions. Project results have so far shown that the guidebook’s content is useable and adaptable for all climates and situations as well.


Perma-icon2The ‘GREEN’ print

The project, already well advanced, commenced with the integration of 10 years of collected edits, updates and corrections into the text body and a comprehensive review the original Permaculture Guidebook from Timor- Leste with the authors, editors, advisor Rosemary Morrow and Permatil staff. This review included feedback from farmers, community groups, NGOs, Government agriculture and education staff as well as 9 years extra experience of the authors.

A content style and structure review took place involving all contributors, revising the format to enable the new edition to adequately cover the different sub-climates and geographical variations within the world’s tropical zones and include many new techniques and strategies. Based on the review findings, a strategic plan for each chapter was created including the addition of new chapters, chapter content, how to generalise the information and what the readers need to understand through reading it.

Following the reviews, the original content has been updated and rewritten. As per the original book, many sources were researched and referenced for each section and chapter. During the rewriting process any new illustrations needed were identified and listed. Working again with incredibly talented original guidebook artists, the new illustrations have been created. Mock up chapters in various formats were then created, with a preferred design style chosen and finalised.

The new international edition is now being edited chapter-by-chapter, first by co-author Ego Lemos, then technical and proofing editors Julianne Hartmann and Rob Swain, and finally by grammar and proofing editor Emma Coupland. Finally, the updated guidebook is being formatted, reviewed, edited one last time, then finalised and uploaded to the website. A long process!

To date six of the 18 chapters are complete and free to download online. Although only six of the 18 chapters are currently available, we have already seen over 5000 chapters downloaded across more than 100 countries. The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook website has regular traffic, our facebook page has attracted more than 2500 followers and we continue to develop connections across a worldwide network of organisations.

Once complete the guidebook will be available to buy in hard copy. We will provide more details as we get closer to publication.

Sign up here for more info about our hard copy version


Partners and Supporters

The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook International Edition is being developed by respected East Timorese NGO Permatil (Permaculture Timor-Leste), xpand Foundation (Australian social enterprise working predominantly in Timor-Leste) and Disruptive Media (Design and strategic communications for the NFP/NGO sector).

The team who wrote, illustrated, edited and produced the original guidebook it is based on, are working together again on this new version. We take our experiences, lessons learned and successes from producing a guidebook in three languages, to improve the quality, technical accuracy and usability. We are also drawing on our extensive experiences since completing the original, as well as 10 years of notes from expert feedback on the original content and layout.

For this edition renowned permaculture practitioner Rosemary Morrow joined the team, who has provided invaluable advice on content, structure and readability. Emma Coupland is a professional editor as well as experienced English Second Language (ESL) teacher and is providing our final proofing and grammar editing. Graphic design company – Disruptive Media are managing our formatting, website and media style. Managing Director, Lyn Jenkin, also works with guidebook partner WithOneSeed and has extensive experience producing educational materials for developing countries, especially Timor-Leste where she has worked many times.

To progress to where we are now we have support from some amazing organisations as well as many fantastic individuals. Oxfam Timor-Leste helped us to produce the original guidebook and have worked closely with Permatil on many projects over 15 years. They have again been very generous in their support of this new edition. Mercy Corps and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have also contributed immensely with large donations to our project. Permaculture Association Australia have given financial support through Permafund as well as helping us a lot as an administrative partner and with marketing and media too.

We have had an incredible level of support through two crowd funding drives, individuals and groups donating generously and giving us inspiring well wishes. So many people have also generously donated their time and skills in spreading the awareness of our project and helping us to make it happen. You know who you are and thanks so so much!!!

Royalties from sales of the English and Tetum books, and online education packages that include the guidebook, will support ongoing permaculture projects run by Permatil and xpand Foundation in Timor Leste.



…to all those who have donated so far. Click here to see who they are.

Our main supporters:



Permaculture Australia
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Pandanus Organics


Our project partners:

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