Monday, 12 September 2016

Regenerative Landscape Design - Conceptual design for 80 ha site - Debnevo - Bulgaria

In the spring of 2016, I was asked to develop a conceptual design for Catherine Zanev on a fantastic piece of land on the north side of the Balkan mountains. My goal was to analyze the site and identify the potential of the land for future regenerative development.

I've been working with Catherine since 2013 on various sites across Bulgaria and completed the design of a 5 ha polyculture orchard  (Suhi Dol)  that is now come to life. 

Suhi Dol - Illustration of the design at maturity - the silvopasture stage.
image by  

Suhi Dol - Todorovo - Photos taken of the first tree 
plantings from this spring - the silvoarable stage. 

Catherine, along with other pioneer land owners within the regenerative movement, is working towards taking land management to the next level, producing nutritious affordable food, dignified jobs, and enhanced biodiversity.

Bostan Bair - A view from one of the three hills on the site.  An 80 ha neglected plum orchard

Welcome to our Online Store where you can find Forest Garden/ Permaculture plants, seeds, bulbs and Polyculture multi-packs along with digital goods and services such as Online Courses, Webinars, eBooks, and Online Consultancy.  We hope you enjoy the store and find something you like :) It's your purchases that keep our Project going. Yuu can also find our full list of trees. shrubs and herbs for forest gardens on our website here 


Breakdown of how the conceptual design was developed.

We started by ordering a digital terrain model (DTM) of the Bostan Bair site, supplied by Geodetect BG. I sent the DTM to Georgi Pavlov who extracted slope, aspect, elevation, water flow, and topography data and exported these to layers onto google earth. This gave us a great visual overview of the land.

Following a visit to the site in February 2016 and further analysis of the DTM, we identified the site potential for water harvesting, located optimal locations for reservoirs/ponds and water tanks, and access routes across the landscape, all largely determined by the topography of the land.

This provided us with a landscape divided into a number of separate plots and each plot was further analyzed and identified to be suitable for various cultivation practices.

The site access and water bodies 

The land was further divided into broad zones based on geographical features as illustrated below.

Images by Georgi Pavlov - 

Regenerative Landscape Design - Bostan Bair

Broad site zones and potential design solutions within those zones

Below you can find each zone along with a list of some cultivation practices that are most suitable for use within them.

Wetland/Semi Wetland

Biomass Production
Beneficial Habitat
Aquatic grasses grown for mulch in the market gardens
Geese and Ducks
e.g Willow and Cornus for basketry, Watercress - Rice
Habitat for pest predators , cover for nesting birds
Portion of land left to naturally succeed

The wetland/semi-wetland zones are areas on the site where water naturally accumulates and are prone to periodical flooding. These areas are well suited to grow biomass for use in the market gardens and orchards, rearing fowl and growing wetland tree crops such as Salix spp. and Cornus sanguinea for basketry material, and growing semi-aquatic crops such as rice and watercress. The lowest points can be easily converted into wildlife ponds and can provide excellent beneficial habitats to support other cultures around the site.


Market Garden
Grain and Fodder/Forage
Propagation facilities
Forest Garden
Vegetable production, raised beds, intensive polyculture vegetable production.
Paddocks of cereals and fodder crops on rotation cycles that can be used to grow animal foods or as forage paddocks.
Chicken in mobile pens preparing raised vegetable beds and rotating around the established beds to clear pests and fertilize.
Nursery for market garden and forestry.
Polycultures of soft fruits for market garden supplies.
River fed
wildlife pond to support the market garden crops  

The area has good access to the main road, receives high levels of light, is on a mild gradient and has relatively low irrigation energy requirements. The site is suitable for raised bed vegetable and herb production, grain/ fodder/hay production, rotational grazing, soft fruit production and a plant/crop nursery.

Undulating Highland

Alley Cropping Silvopasture
Alley Cropping
Orchard Restoration
Fruit and nut perennial polycultures planted on contour belts with animals rotated through the alleys.
Fruit and nut perennial polycultures planted on contour belts with cereals/grasses grown in alleys.
Drought tolerant timber/biomass/fodder trees.
Water tolerant timber/biomass/fodder trees.
Honey production within the agroforestry
areas dedicated to bee trees, shrubs and herbs.
Rain fed wildlife and wetland for biomass production and support species habitat.
Restoring healthy sections of the plum orchard.  

The undulating hillsides are well suited to a range of agroforestry practices including:

  • silvopasture wherein high value orchard polycultures are grown with animal grazing in between rows.
  • silvoarable systems of orchard polycultures with cereals/fodder/biomass grown in between. 
The dry and steeper areas in this region are dedicated to drought-tolerant timber species under grazed by a succession of animals, and the wet low-lying areas are dedicated to flood-tolerant biomass and fodder trees. The northern hill has wonderful views lending itself well to accommodation for tenants, tourism, or an education/visitor center.


Steep land

Woodland coppice
Coppice and timber production
producing site materials, nut crops, animal fodder, materials for craft.
Coppice management demonstration center - Courses, craft work etc.
Portion of land left to naturally succeed.
Steep inaccessible slopes planted with bee trees, shrubs and herbs.

This land is difficult to access and work on due to steep gradients. The steepest areas of the site can be planted with trees, shrubs, and herbs that will provide a succession of nectar and pollen to bees and other pollinating invertebrates. This area is already naturally succeeding to woodland.

On the less steep hillsides a variety of coppice trees can be planted. The coppice can provide material for the market garden and for fencing material across the site.


Riparian Zones
Maintain the diversity of the existing riparian buffer.
Cropping of existing walnuts and apples and other crops.
Ram pump potential.
Modify tracks to shed water and direct to ponds.

The boundaries of the site are already well established. The riparian buffer along the river side is in good condition and should be maintained as it is. The tracks on the northern boundary require some modifications in order to shed water and avoid runnels.

We're looking forward to the future development of the site.  This season the cleared areas of the site were used to grow Einkorn, an ancient form of wheat, and produced better than expected yields of this grain. This autumn we'll be sowing a winter cover of Rye and Vetch in order to build fertility and soil organic matter. Planting of an organic cherry orchard is also planned on the site this fall.

Images by Georgi Pavlov - 

Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course 

Want to learn how to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes?  Join us for our Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course from May 1st to Sep 13th, 2023. 

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course

You can find out all about the course here and right now we have a 20% discount on the full enrollment fees. Just use the promo code
 RLD2023 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount. 

We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know, the very first of its kind. If you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out. Looking forward to it!


We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture, forest gardens and regenerative landscapes including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. - Give a happy plant a happy home :)

Our Bio-Nursery - Permaculture/Polyculture/ Regenerative Landscape Plants 


Support Our Project 

If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Comment, like, and share our content on social media.
  • Donate directly via PayPal to


Design and Create Webinars - Forest Gardens, Urban Gardens, Permaculture, Regenerative Farming   

We're hosting a range of online learning sessions including how to create habitat to enhance biodiversity, how to design and build a forest garden, polyculture design software tutorials, regenerative farm, and landscape design, urban gardening and much more. If you would like to be notified when our next sessions are coming up please add your email below and hit subscribe and we'll be in touch.

You can also register for our online training, services, and products directly here.


No comments:

Post a Comment