Bioregionalism is a political, cultural, and environmental system or set of views based on naturally defined areas called bioregions, similar to ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s. Bioregions are defined through physical and environmental features, including watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 boundaries and soil
Soil is a natural body consisting of layers of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics...

 and terrain
Terrain, or land relief, is the vertical and horizontal dimension of land surface. When relief is described underwater, the term bathymetry is used...

 characteristics. Bioregionalism stresses that the determination of a bioregion is also a cultural
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 phenomenon, and emphasizes local populations, knowledge, and solutions.

Bioregionalism is a concept that goes beyond national boundaries—an example is the concept of Cascadia
Cascadia, a term that derives from the Cascade Range, may refer to:* the Pacific Northwest* Cascadia, a former plant genus now included in Saxifraga* 1700 Cascadia earthquake...

, a region that is sometimes considered to consist of the western halves of Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

 and Washington, the Alaska Panhandle
Alaska Panhandle
Southeast Alaska, sometimes referred to as the Alaska Panhandle, is the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Alaska, which lies west of the northern half of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The majority of Southeast Alaska's area is part of the Tongass National Forest, the United...

, the far north of California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and the West Coast of Canada.


The term appears to have originated in work by Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann in the early 1970s, and has been advocated by writers such as Kirkpatrick Sale
Kirkpatrick Sale
Kirkpatrick Sale is an independent scholar and author who has written prolifically about political decentralism, environmentalism, luddism and technology...


The bioregionalist perspective opposes a homogeneous economy and consumer culture with its lack of stewardship towards the environment. This perspective seeks to:
  • Ensure that political boundaries match ecological boundaries.
  • Highlight the unique ecology
    Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

     of the bioregion.
  • Encourage consumption of local food
    Local food
    Local food or the local food movement is a "collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies - one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular...

    s where possible.
  • Encourage the use of local materials
    Natural resource
    Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity and geodiversity existent in various ecosystems....

     where possible.
  • Encourage the cultivation of native plants
    Indigenous (ecology)
    In biogeography, a species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. Every natural organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as native...

     of the region.
  • Encourage sustainability
    Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

     in harmony with the bioregion.

In politics

North American Bioregional Assemblies have been bi-annual gatherings of bioregionalists throughout North America since 1984 and have given rise to national level Green Parties. In addition, bioregionalism spawned the sustainability movement. The tenets of bioregionalism are often used by green movements, which oppose political organizations whose boundaries conform to existing electoral districts. This problem is perceived to result in elected representatives voting in accordance with their constituents, some of whom may live outside a defined bioregion, and may run counter to the well-being of the bioregion.

The 11th Bioregional Congress is set to take place in late summer or early fall 2011 at Birch Creek in Southern Oregon
Southern Oregon
Southern Oregon is a region of the U.S. state of Oregon south of Lane County and generally west of the Cascade Range, excluding the southern Oregon Coast. Counties include Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, and Josephine. It includes the Southern Oregon American Viticultural Area, which consists of the...

, part of the Klamath-Siskiyou forests bioregion and the land sometimes referred to as the "State of Jefferson".

See also

  • Eco-Communalism
    Eco-communalism is an environmental philosophy based on ideals of simple living, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and local economies. Eco-communalists envision a future in which the economic system of capitalism is replaced with a global web of economically interdependent and interconnected...

  • Ecological footprint
    Ecological footprint
    The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to...

  • Grassroots democracy
    Grassroots democracy
    Grassroots democracy is a tendency towards designing political processes where as much decision-making authority as practical is shifted to the organization's lowest geographic level of organization: principle of subsidiarity....

  • Green anarchism
    Green anarchism
    Green anarchism, or ecoanarchism, is a school of thought within anarchism which puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. An important early influence was the thought of the American anarchist Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden...

  • List of ecoregions
  • Social ecology
    Social ecology
    Social ecology is a philosophy developed by Murray Bookchin in the 1960s.It holds that present ecological problems are rooted in deep-seated social problems, particularly in dominatory hierarchical political and social systems. These have resulted in an uncritical acceptance of an overly...

  • Permaculture
    Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature. It is based on the ecology of how things interrelate rather than on the strictly biological concerns that form the foundation of modern agriculture...

Further reading

  • Peter Berg, editor. Reinhabiting A Separate Country: A Bioregional Anthology of Northern California. San Francisco: Planet Drum, 1978. ISBN 0-937102-00-8.
  • Michael McGinnis, editor. Bioregionalism, Routledge, 1998. ISBN 0-415-15445-6.
  • Kirkpatrick Sale, Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision. Random House, 1985. ISBN 0-8203-2205-9 (University of Georgia Press, 2000).
  • Gary Snyder
    Gary Snyder
    Gary Snyder is an American poet , as well as an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist . Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry...

    . A Place in Space: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Watersheds. Counterpoint, 1995. ISBN 1-887178-27-9
  • Robert Thayer. LifePlace: Bioregional Thought and Practice, University of California Press, 2003. ISBN 0-520-23628-9
  • Emanuele Guerrieri Ciaceri. Bioregionalismo. La visione locale di un mondo globale. Argo Edizioni, Italia 2006. ISBN 9788888659190
  • Doug Aberley, editor. Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment. New Society Publishers, 1998. ISBN 978-0865712720

External links

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