Working together with stakeholders to establish an eco-settlement can bring many advantages to the municipality, depending on the situation.
Setting up an eco-community is quite difficult, and as many as nine out of ten projects fail to be fully realised. It is good if the local municipality understands the benefits that establishment can bring, and what help is needed.
Near- zero leakage of nutrients
Because the settlement is designed to recycle nutrients, very little escapes into the surrounding eco-system or is released in the municipal waste water. This is good, because the ecological footprint of the property is reduced, reducing the overall footprint of the municipality itself.
It is also beneficial as the load on waste water handling is reduced, thereby lowering the overall costs for waste water.
Risk reduction and preparedness
There are several elements in an eco-settlement that offer an overall risk reduction:
Food produced close to accommodation.
Apart from reducing the foot print, an eco settlement offers an approach of reducing food vulnerability. The techniques of producing food on this relatively small scale can be learnt and adopted by the communities around the settlement, should the supermarket based system of importing and distributing food fail.
Reduction of energy dependence
Aiming to exist only on renewable energy, the eco settlement will have several solutions available should the national grid electricity grid fail for any length of time. Again, the eco-settlement can acts as a centre of knowledge for preparedness for energy shortfalls.
Experience shows that once a project starts to establish such a settlement, it attracts other settlement projects and related services.
An eco-settlement provides housing and food in a sustainable way, as well as a social context. This generates work – from building to maintenance, and from land preparation to food preparation. This work is centered on the function of the settlement and is therefore highly sustainable.
Apart from the work directly associated with the running for the settlement, residents will gain (as will the municipality) from the identity and “brand” created by the village. For example, residents and even entrepreneurs associated with the settlement can create an entrepreneurs network with a common marketing platform around the settlement.
Several eco settlements offer day-care centres that offer that little extra in terms of being close to nature, many offer training and this attracts visitors to the municipality.
Making the municipality more attractive to live in
Experience shows that despite the lure of the city, many, especially parents, would like to live in the country or rural areas. Of these, many are drawn to a more green life-style. What stops them is:
- lack of jobs
- the initial capital cost of construction
- lack of friends, family, etc in the area
An eco-settlement provides the community and social coherence as well as possibilities to establish oneself in work. Especially if eco-settlement establishment can be tied to job stimulation programs, the municipality can increase its attractiveness.
The start of ruralisation
The diagram above shows how a town might begin to become more resilient and sustainable using the ruralisation concept. Basically , the outside of the town is mapped to ascertain areas suitable for eco-settlement establishment. From there, a plan can be drafted for each of these areas. Onve one eco-settlement is up and running, it can be used to support the next and so on.
Read more about ruralisation on Folke Gunthers home page.
See the powerpoint by Folke Günther on ruralisation
Read this “story from the future” visualisation about how eco-settlements can be established (pdf)