Anyone deeply interested in a subject quickly discovers the specialized vocabulary associated with the topic.  These topic-specific terms are intended to provide specificity and clarity.   However, they frequently end up being used to exclude beginners or those who are casually interested in the subject from delving too deeply into the interests of those who are “serious.”

Let’s remove the mystery around some of those terms right now. 

In the 1970s, environmentalists Raymond Dasmann and Peter Berg used the term “bioregion.”  This word defines a geographic area that has unique natural features, such as localized plants and animals or distinct geological formations.  Their concept of a bioregion also recognizes that people are factors in the ecological equation.  

Consequently, a bioregion is also defined by the inclusion of local cultures.  Specifically, this reflects what local populations need to live and how they will interact with the natural resources around them.   Keep in mind though, not everyone agrees with this definition.   There are other interpretations as well. Some definitions are broader and suggest a more nature-positive approach.  Others are more narrow or neutral.  

Lately, “bioregionalism” has become aligned with the green economy movement.  This is a lightning rod concept in some circles.  Historically, it was the inspiration for the Earth First! militia. Again, a polarizing notion.   (Note, I do not condone violence nor destruction, even for the sake of environmental protection, which I obviously support.)

Politics aside, ensuring that our natural systems are available now and for future generations seems like a sensible thing to do because ultimately we depend upon them. More moderate conservation management and government agencies use the term to designate different types of areas.  It is a somewhat useful term but has many limitations. The One Earth organization provides additional information about what they describe as the 185 discrete bioregions distributed globally.  

For more information, refer to this source:  https://www.oneearth.org/bioregions-2020/

While bioregions may be valuable for government entities, they may be too encompassing, lacking local specificity for the person who wants to best understand their community.  Therefore, a future post will explore the concept of ecoregions and we will get a bit closer to home. 

Sources: 

For more information about Dasmann and Berg’s bioregionalism — ” Reinhabiting California,” published in The Ecologist in 1977

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