What is Bioregionalism?

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bioregionalism

Bioregionalism transcends the socially defined borders of our world. Instead of defining areas according to national and political boundaries, areas are defined by the tangible and natural features of the land. This idea also maintains the belief that cultures and traditions play a role in how physical regions are determined.

The term bioregionalism, along with its ideas, is a relatively young concept. In the early 1970′s Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann coined the term is their work. Since then, bioregionalisms have emerged in support of the ideals that Berg and Dasmann advocated. Bioregionalism bears some resemblance to environmentalism in that they both share the same spirit of appreciating and living peacefully with nature, rather than trying to clear it away or otherwise disrupt its presence in our world.

It is important to note, though, that bioregionalism differs greatly from environmentalism in key ways. Bio regionalists have transcended the environmentalist idea that consumerism and human life must be at odds with nature. Instead, bioregionalism believes that humans and nature can coexist and even benefit from one another. The environmentalist perspective has long assigned the role of victim to nature and advocated the use of protests to protect and separate nature from human life. From a bio regionalists viewpoint, human culture and wilderness are inextricably tied and they can and should benefit from each other so that both can be sustained through time.

To understand the way that bioregionalism views land, consider the Ozarks. The Ozarks is a bioregion that ignores politically defined state boundaries. Southern Missouri, northwest Arkansas, the northeast part of Oklahoma, and the southeast part of Kansas make up what is known as the Ozarks Plateau. The terrain and other features of this area are environmentally and thus culturally, similar. Viewing an environmental area strictly from its state boundaries, according to the bio regionalist perspective, diminishes our ability to build a sustainable relationship with the environment. It also draws away from the basic tenets of bioregionalism that teach us to:

  • Make sure that political boundaries line up with ecological ones.
  • Promote using local products and foods.
  • Promote the use and cultivation of native species of plants.
  • Pay attention to and celebrate the particular ecology of the bioregion.
  • Promote a sustainable relationship with the ecology of the bioregion.

Bioregionalism as is described here has actually been around and practiced by people for hundreds of years, although it hadn’t been defined yet. Essentially, it is the practice of living a life that focuses on using local resources and sustaining those resources through responsible consumption and appreciation for the local biological community in which we choose to live.


David Frosh is a frequent blogger on higher education topics. Several schools offer MPA degrees, including USF and NWU.

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Greener Ideal is an independent environmental news and lifestyle publication that has been curating content since 2008 to further the green movement. The views expressed by contributing authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.