The heart of Biomimicry is about “imitating nature”. It’s about discovering a whole new way of valuing the natural world and finding that nature has been doing everything we have ever desired to do – build, design, manufacture, waterproof, harness energy - you name it, and has done it for some 3.8 billion years without ever having guzzled fossil fuel, polluted the planet or jeopardized its future.
“Humanity is seeing that we are one part of 30 million species but to our detriment we have acted as though we are the only part. Instead of having only one vote, we have had the only vote." Sue Swain - Biowise
Throughout time mankind has learned how to do many things by observing nature. Now there is a realisation that through the medium of biomimicry, nature can teach us to find innovative and sustainable ways of living and doing.
Just think of an indigenous forest and how all the myriad of organisms live and work together, cooperating to ensure the health of the system and thereby the long-term survival of all. e.g. How does a tree pump water from the basement to the penthouse?
How does a spider spin a silk web that is essentially five times stronger than steel and three times more flexible? And using life friendly chemistry because it can’t be toxic if it produces it from its own body!
Imagine if, our human society could function like that. Imagine a town where the concept of waste doesn’t exist, where we draw our energy from the sun, where efficiency is built into design, where cooperation, self-reliance, promoting of diversity and keeping it local ensure meaningful prosperity for all, where businesses operate benignly, actually helping to restore the environment in which they operate and where the ability to respond and adapt to change is second nature.
Biomimicry offers that through copying nature we can implement sustainable innovation and already many inventions have been improved from noticing how nature handles her challenges.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature he finds it attached to the rest of the world." John Muir
So by looking at nature differently not just with our eyes but with an open-hearted sense of wonder, forgetting what we know and allowing ourselves to rethink, redesign and re-imagine, we can let ourselves tap into the 3.8 billion years of research and development that has informed nature’s patterns, processes, and system strategies.
Sue Swain of Biowise has been instrumental in developing a project to support the “Naturally Knysna” campaign that involves developing a “Discovery Park” on the outskirts of the town. It aims to bring together all that can be implemented from biomimicry on an on-going basis.
It will be an educational, eco-tourism, conservation, research, design and innovation centre showcasing a new way of viewing and valuing nature through experiential activities, models, exhibitions and demonstrations.
Engaging and interpreting these biomimicry techniques will assist Knysna to re-design itself to operate as beautifully efficient and benignly as the very forests on its doorstep. The park’s concept design began at the end of January 2013. Mick Pearce, who designed the Eastgate Centre in Harare that has copied the temperature regulation process employed by termite mounds, is part of the design team.
Sue Swain -Knysna Tourism AGM 2010, Lakes Bird Club presentation - July 2010, Garden Route Initiative presentation - October 2013
Watch this worthwhile TED video by Claire Janish “Oceans of Innovation”
South African Biomimicry website http://biomimicrysa.co.za for more information and TED videos.