An ecovillage is a small community united by shared ecological, social and/or spiritual values. It is often composed of people who have chosen an alternative to mainstream power networks. Many see the breakdown of traditional forms of community, wasteful lifestyles, the destruction of natural habitat, urban sprawl, factory farming and over-reliance on fossil fuels as trends that must be changed to avert ecological disaster. They see small-scale communities with minimal ecological impact as an alternative. However, they often cooperate with peer villages in a power network of their own (see Global Ecovillage Network for such an example). This model of collective action is similar to that of Ten Thousand Villages, which supports the fair trade of goods worldwide.
The principles on which ecovillages rely can be applied to urban (see cohousing) and to rural settings, as well as to developing and developed countries. Advocates seek infrastructural independence and a sustainable lifestyle (for example, of voluntary simplicity) for inhabitants with a minimum of trade outside the local area, or ecoregion. Rural ecovillages are usually based on organic farming, permaculture and other approaches which promote ecosystem function and biodiversity.
An ecovillage usually relies on: