The following are quotes by the bioregionalist named Alexander:
Bioregionalism (short definition) is:
The conscousness or awareness of the interconnectedness of the water-life cycle within a given region.
Hence a bioregionalist is one that advocates for the awakening in conscousness and the protection of the water-life cycle.
Even of the driest of deserts a bioregion is defined by its water-life cycle no matter how long and seemingly sparse of
a cycle that is.
The great water-life cycles are actually the generation and transfer of energy.
What is a Bioregion?
"Bioregions are geographic areas having common characteristics of
soil, watershed, climate, native plants and animals that exist within the whole planetary biosphere as unique and contributive
parts. A bioregion refers both to geographical terrain and a terrain of consciousness -- to a place and the ideas that have
developed about how to live in that place. A bioregion can be determined initially by use of climatology, physiography, animal
and plant geography, natural history and other descriptive resonance among living things and the factors that influence them
which occurs specifically within each separate part of the planet. Discovering and describing that resonance is a way to describe
Peter Berg & Raymond Dasmann
Reinhabiting a Separate Country
Planet Drum Foundation,
(Defined and Updated 2002)
By Peter Berg
effects on Earth's biosphere due to human activities since the inception of the industrial era have become imperiling to all
life. A transformation of fundamental aspects of consciousness is urgently required to halt and reverse this destructive process.
Conservation of resources and environmentalism alone are not adequate to the task. The concept of a bioregion as the basic
location where people live, and the practice of reinhabitation of that life-place by its residents, are necessary to rejoin
human beings into the overall web of life. Harmonizing with the natural systems of each bioregion is a necessary step toward
preserving the whole biosphere.
A bioregion is defined in terms of the unique overall pattern of natural characteristics
that are found in a specific place. The main features are generally found throughout a continuous geographic terrain and include
a particular climate, local aspects of seasons, landforms, watersheds, soils, and native plants and animals. People are also
counted as an integral aspect of a place's life, as can be seen in the ecologically adaptive cultures of early inhabitants,
and in the activities of present day reinhabitants who attempt to harmonize in a sustainable way with the place where they
Because it is a cultural idea, the description of a specific bioregion is drawn using information from not only
the natural sciences but also many other sources. It is a geographic terrain and a terrain of consciousness. Anthropological
studies, historical accounts, social developments, customs, traditions, and arts can all play a part. Bioregionalism utilizes
them to accomplish three main goals: 1) restore and maintain local natural systems; 2) practice sustainable ways to satisfy
basic human needs such as food, water, energy, housing, and materials; and 3) support the work of reinhabitation. The latter
is accomplished through proactive projects, employment and education, as well as by engaging in protests against the destruction
of natural elements in a life-place.
Bioregional goals play out in a spectrum of different ways for different places.
In North America, for example, restoring native prairie grasses is a basic ecosystem-rebuilding activity for reinhabitants
of the Kansas Area Watershed Bioregion in the Midwest, whereas bringing back salmon runs has a high priority for Shasta Bioregion
in northern California. Using biomass as a renewable energy source fits Cascadia Bioregion in the rainy Pacific Northwest.
Less cloudy skies in the Southwest's sparsely vegetated Sonoran Desert Bioregion make direct solar energy a more plentiful
alternative there. Education about local natural characteristics and conditions varies diversely from place to place, along
with bioregionally significant social and political issues
In the early 1970s, the contemporary vision of bioregionalism
began to be formed through collaboration between natural scientists, social and environmental activists, artists and writers,
community leaders, and back-to-the-landers who worked directly with natural resources. They wanted to do "more than just save
what's left" in regard to nature, wildness and the biosphere. Planet Drum Foundation in San Francisco became a voice for this
sentiment through its publications about applying place-based ideas to environmental practices, society, cultural expressions,
philosophy, politics, and other subjects. By the late 70s, bioregional organizations such as the Frisco Bay Mussel Group in
northern California and Ozark Area Community Congress on the Kansas-Missouri border were founded to articulate local economic,
social, political, and cultural agendas. The Mussel Group eventually played a pivotal role in persuading the public to vote
down a bioregionally lethal Peripheral Canal proposal to divert fresh water away from San Francisco Bay. The Ozarks group
has held continuous annual gatherings to promote and support place-based activities. At present there are hundreds of similar
groups (and publications) in North and South America, Europe, Japan, and Australia.
There is a strong affinity for
bioregional thinking in many fields that relate to ecological sustainability. Restoration ecology practitioners readily grasp
the importance of an appreciative local culture for their efforts to revive native plants and animals. Urban ecology advocates
use bioregions for "nesting" their redesigned cities in a broad natural context. Permaculturalists and most organic farmers
employ techniques that are appropriate to their particular locales and insist on maintaining soils, water sources, and native
species. Poets, painters, theater groups, and other artists have embraced bioregional themes in their works. Grade school
teachers introduce bioregional concepts, and graduate schools recognize theses and dissertations based on them. Followers
of Deep Ecology claim bioregionalists as a social manifestation of their biocentric philosophy. Even traditional conservation
and environmental groups including the Sierra Club have subsequent to the inception of bioregionalism adopted a system of
"ecoregions" to address members" problems in home areas.
Bioregionalists are primarily concerned with their own local
areas. There are a surprisingly large number of opportunities to address everyday living conditions for the benefit of local
sustainability; as wide-ranging as resident-based reforestation projects in rural areas and community gardens in cities. Their
influence is felt most strongly on county and city levels because this is where they take place and are most visible. Watershed-based
organizations with bioregional priorities for basins as small as a creek or as large as the Great Lakes are a steadily growing
phenomenon. Their recommendations to boards, councils, and other agencies aren't limited to creek restoration, water conservation,
and other obvious issues, but may also include redrawing political borders to fit watershed lines and adopting ecological
On a broader level, representatives of the bioregional movement from far- flung places have held gatherings
and congresses in Canada, Italy, Mexico, and the US that resulted in the formulation of general principles and statements
of intent like the often-reprinted proclamation "Welcome Home". The defense of bioregions from globalist intrusions is a persistent
issue that requires especially creative responses. When the town of Tepoztlan in Mexico was threatened with loss of traditional
water rights and political autonomy by multinational land developers, bioregionalists from throughout North America assisted
in mounting a resistance that was eventually approved by the Mexican government. Most recently, the destructive ecological
impact and official "greenwashing" of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake Bioregion was investigated and successfully exposed
to international media coverage through Guard Fox Watch, a monitoring group made up of bioregional activists from Japan and
the US. More bioregional alliances to defend particularly threatened places can be expected in the future.
Understanding the Concept of Ecoregions
by David D. McClosky
© 1997 Cascadia Institutue
Ecoregions are the rooms in the house of a bioregion. Ecoregion is short-hand for regional ecosystem. An ecoregion
is a relatively similar area united by common geography, ecology, and culture. Ecoregions are distinct places which help articulate
the internal diversity of a large and complex region such as Cascadia.
The purpose of ecoregional mapping is two-fold:
one, to provide a common, integrative framework for management of natural resources, and two, for deeper social identification
with the land and each other, and thus, better political organization.
An ecoregion is known in two ways: internally by
its distinctive character (e.g. the Okanogan Highlands), and externally by its context in the region (e.g. Okanogan in relation
to the Columbia Plateau and Coeur d'Alene-Spokane).
An ecoregion may be analyzed on physical, biological, and cultural
levels. First, we map the landforms, geology, climate, and hydrology, and how these environmental factors work together to
create a common template for life in that particular place. Second, we map the flora and fauna, especially the characteristic
vegetative communities, and link them to their habitats. Third, we look at native peoples, western settlement, and current
land-use patterns and problems, in interaction with the first two levels.
Each layer of information is brought together
to represent the regional system. No one single factor (e.g. climate) explains everything. The inner structure of an ecoregion
is organized as a series of intersecting gradients; temperature and precipitation changing with elevation, in alternating
belts of vegetation along windward and leeward sides of a parallel series of mountain ranges, with biodiversity thinning toward
the edges. Such flows of energy, matter, and information form a distinctive matrix. To understand the region, we must comprehend
this system of relationships.
Boundaries are natural, and often found as soft transitional areas rather than hard-edged
political lines on a map. The boundary is a convergent threshold where many layers intersect, located where several significant
factors end and begin. Borders articulate the natural envelope of the place--its centers and bounds--and link this diversity
into the larger world.
Since ecological systems are open and lack definite boundaries, in complex terrain, watersheds
are often used to represent ecosystems on a landscape level. Here, ecoregions are often drawn as a series of contiguous watersheds
with similar character and context. However, where other factors predominate--such as landforms, tectonic suites, regional
rivers, vegetative breaks, or major cultural boundaries--then watershed lines may be crossed. In each case, the key is to
be true to the land and its people.
In terms of size, an ecoregion is larger than a watershed and smaller than a bioregion;
or in political terms, larger than a county and smaller than a state or province. There are over 75 ecoregions in the more
than 750,000 square miles of Cascadia. Thus, they average about 10,000 square miles each, though ranging from 2,000 to over
30,000 square miles; again, size depends upon the unique character and context of the place itself. An ecoregion in Cascadia
often covers several degrees of latitude and perhaps longitude.
No ecoregion is self-contained but rather is intertwined
with others as houses within houses. The ecoregion is a mediating level linked to the habitat or neighborhood, and watershed,
on smaller scales, and to the bioregion, continent, and planet, on larger scales in many complex ways. We seek to understand
the structure, function, and evolution of each ecoregion in terms of this larger system of relationships.
As a practical
matter, ecoregions may be flexibly combined and recombined in different configurations to fit changing condi-tions and special
purposes. For instance, Okanogan could be linked to Mountain Valleys and the Selkirks-Pend Oreille for one application, and
with the Columbia Plateau and Coeur d'Alene-Spokane for another task, or they could all be combined for a third purpose.
Ecoregions provide a general purpose map of the local world, as we seek to comprehend the life of the place as a whole.
Cascadia: Bedrock to Biology
by Janet Johnson
© 1994 Seattle University News
excerted with permission
Cascadia sits on its own tectonic plates, called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The continental
shelf offshore is called the Cascadia Shelf. The largest offshore feature on the sea floor is the Cascadia Basin, fed by the
Columbia River, which shoots a plume of fresh water 200 miles out to sea.
Although less than 10 percent of the continent,
Cascadia contributes 20 to 25 percent of the total surface runoff. Twenty of the 40 largest rivers on the continent are fed
by Cascadian waters.
Other natural commonalities among the ecoregions comprising Cascadia, include weather patterns,
ocean currents, water temperature and salinity and river systems. Cascadia is a fertile meeting ground of winds and waters,
located in between the contrasting weather pressure cells of the Aleutian low and the Pacific high. These swirling g 6yres
spin out the powerful mid-latitude jet streams that spray storm fronts in great wave-trains across the face of our region.
The migrating border between the two weather cells as they move up and down the coast from the deserts of Baja Mexico to the
taiga of Alaska is called spring and fall. Thus Cascadia is winter wet and summer dry. "We enjoy the longest, deepest, most
beautiful springtime in the world here," says David McCloskey.
These ecoregions also share common flora and fauna.
Within Cascadia's boundaries live the salmon. This is the home of the beaver and the ancient forest. The southern-most cedar
grove is found near Cape Mendocino, where the San Andreas fault goes out to sea, marking the southern boundary of Cascadia.
Ecology & Community: The Bioregional Vision
by David Mc Closkey
been watching Seattle slip-slide away in Puget Sound for four months now, from late December to late April…
pure, predictable power of these swollen rivers of mud builds up an enormous hydraulic head until it finally bursts forth
in a torrent of debris, clearing everything in its path…
…Our human contribution to the acceleration of
such problems is enormous. Consider how we have altered Seattle’s landscape: paved surfaces, flattened hills, rerouted
or killed springs and creeks, channellized and diked rivers, filled in wetlands, built everywhere, stripped away the native
vegetation, expunged the fauna, and introduced exotic species…
…We need to wake up and return to our senses,
as if from a long, drugged sleep…The very ground on which we stand seems to be washing out from under our feet…
as if we’ve been under a spell--one that does not enchant but rather ensnares us…
…From the perspective
of everyday life, the dominant dynamic of the emerging age is displacement…
…Such a double displacement
of the land and its peoples reveal many parallels…
…pervasive displacement of native-to-the-place life
on all levels is linked, of course, to that forbidden word, domination…
…Today, global has come to mean
globular, everything melted into one under their [global economic orders] control…
…when the central problematics
of the era become the twin evils of displacement and degradation, the the answers we need to response are reinhabitation and
…The bioregional idea is not about the environment in general, but about specific life-places
that we inhabit on a daily basis…
…Coming home to a bioregion means, first of all, learning how to reinhabit
it, and then restoring its natural and social systems…
…Reinhabitation involves the twin processes of orientation
and identification. It means, first, finding a truer orientation to the character and context of the lif-place we inhabit,
and the, second, deepening our identification with it. Instead of claiming a territory as your own, when you fall in love
with the land you may find yourself claimed by it instead! While such attunement is an individual matter, it is also a collective,
…Ecology and community are two sides of the same river of life. Since they are
being lost together around the world, they also need to be restored together…Our goals here are, first, to help maintain
and restore the integrity and vitality of our natural systems on a bioregional scale, and, second, to revitalize local economies
…sustainability is fast becoming a mirage…Sustainable is an abstraction, an adjective
in search of a noun…
…No--the problem today is not sustainability but rather viability; indeed, there can
be no sustainability without viability! For the ecological crisis is now more concerned with the lower thresholds of viability
of species and habitats rather than maximum flows of resource commodities…
…when ecological degradation,
fragmentation, and simplification lead to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, then we must seek to restore the health
of those systems…
…who is going to do the real work of restoration?…what should be the role of community
and culture in long-term restoration?…
…Communities can provide the essential social basis for restoration.
And restoration is also a community-building practice--it works both ways…
…where is the money for restoration
going to come from?…ecoregions…could establish their own dedicated ecological restoration trust funds…watershed
or ecoregional councils could serve as responsible agents, with rules to ensure proper use in perpetuity as in land trusts
or other public trusts…
…All over our region, we see the emergence of a spontaneous grassroots movement
to restore ecology and community together. Every community has its commons, and it’s time we restore them to health."