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Bioregionalism is a political, cultural, and ecological system or set of views based on naturally defined areas called bioregions, similar to ecoregions. Bioregions are defined through physical and environmental features, including watershed boundaries and soil and terrain characteristics. Bioregionalism stresses that the determination of a bioregion is also a cultural phenomenon, and emphasizes local populations, knowledge, and solutions.[1]

Bioregionalism is a concept that goes beyond national boundaries—an example is the concept of Cascadia, a region that is sometimes considered to consist of most of Oregon and Washington, the Alaska Panhandle, the far north of California and the West Coast of Canada, sometimes also including some or all of Idaho and western Montana.[2] Another example of a bioregion, which does not cross national boundaries, but does overlap state lines, is the Ozarks, a bioregion also referred to as the Ozarks Plateau, which consists of southern Missouri, northwest Arkansas, the northeast corner of Oklahoma, southeast corner of Kansas.[3]


The term was coined by Allen Van Newkirk, founder of the Institute for Bioregional Research, in 1975,[4] given currency by Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann in the early 1970s,[5] and has been advocated by writers such as Kirkpatrick Sale.[6]

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.[7]
  • Highlight the unique ecology of the bioregion.
  • Encourage consumption of local foods where possible.
  • Encourage the use of local materials where possible.
  • Encourage the cultivation of native plants of the region.
  • Encourage sustainability in harmony with the bioregion.[8]

Relationship to environmentalism

Bioregionalism, while akin to environmentalism in certain aspects, such as a desire to live in harmony with nature, differs in certain ways from classical, 20th century environmentalism.[9]

According to Peter Berg, bioregionalism is proactive, and is based on forming a harmony between human culture and the natural environment, rather than being protest-based like the original environmental movement. Also, while classical environmentalists saw human industry as the enemy of nature and nature as a victim needing to be saved; bioregionalists see humanity and its culture as a part of nature, focusing on building a positive, sustainable relationship with the environment, rather than a focus on preserving and segregating the wilderness from the world of humanity.[10]

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[citation needed]. 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.

At the local level, several bioregions have congresses that meet regularly. For instance, the Ozark Plateau bioregion hosts a yearly Ozark Area Community Congress, better known as OACC, which has been meeting every year since 1980,[11] most often on the first weekend in October. The Kansas Area Watershed, "KAW" was founded in 1982 and has been meeting regularly since that time.[12] KAW holds a yearly meeting, usually in the spring.

The government of the Canadian province of Alberta has recently made major to its land-use policies including a separate "land-use framework" document for each major river basin within the province. This is supported by local initiatives such as the Beaver Hills Initiative, which seeks to create a large biosphere reserve encompassing Elk Island National Park and the surrounding area.[13]

See also


  1. "Bioregionalism: The Need For a Firmer Theoretical Foundation", Don Alexander, Trumpeter v13.3, 1996.
  2. "Cascadia: The New Frontier". Cascadia Prospectus. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2012-11-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "About OACC Ozark Area Community Congress". OACC Ozark Area Community Congress. Retrieved 30 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. McGinnis, Michael Vincent (1999). Bioregionalism. London and New York: Routledge. p. 22. ISBN 041515444-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Berg, Peter and Raymond Dasmann, "Reinhabiting California," The Ecologist 7, no. 10 (1977)
  6. Anderson, Walter Truett. There's no going back to nature, Mother Jones (September/October 1996)
  7. Davidson, S. (2007) "The Troubled Marriage of Deep Ecology and Bioregionalism," Environmental Values, vol. 16(3): 313-332
  8. Bastedo, Jamie. Shield Country: The Life and Times of the Oldest Piece of the Planet, Red Deer Press, 1994. ISBN 0-88995-191-8
  9. "Peter Berg of Planet Drum". 1998-02-12. Retrieved 2012-11-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Peter Berg of Planet Drum". 1998-02-12. Retrieved 2012-11-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "About OACC Ozark Area Community Congress". OACC Ozark Area Community Congress. Retrieved 1 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Kansas Area Watershed Council History". Retrieved 1 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Mike Carr, Bioregionalism and Civil Society: Democratic Challenges to Corporate Globalism, UBC Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0774809443.
  • Peter Berg, editor. Reinhabiting A Separate Country: A Bioregional Anthology of Northern California. San Francisco: Planet Drum, 1978. ISBN 0-937102-00-8.
  • Peter Berg, Envisioning Sustainability, Subculture Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9799194-8-0.
  • 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. 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 978-88-88659-19-0
  • Doug Aberley, editor. Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment. New Society Publishers, 1998. ISBN 978-0-86571-272-0

External links