What is a Bioregion?

vision fast 2012 010 (Custom)A bioregion is a land and water territory whose limits are defined by the geographical limits of human communities and their ecosystems.

How big is a bioregion?

Such an area must be large enough to:

  • Maintain the integrity of the region’s biological communities, wildlife habitats, and ecosystems.
  • Support important ecological processes, such as nutrient and waste cycling, wildlife migration, and stream flow.
  • Meet the habitat requirements of keystone and indicator species.
  • Include the human communities involved in the management, use, and understanding of biological resources.

It must be small enough for local residents to consider it home.

A bioregion could be no bigger than a small watershed or as large as a small state or province. In special cases, a bioregion might span the borders of two or more countries.


People and Bioregions
People also define a bioregion.

Bioregions must have a unique cultural identity and be a place in which local residents have the primary right to determine their own development.

A primary right means that the interests of local communities should be the basis for decisions on regional development and conservation. Within that framework political and economic interests must be accommodated.


Bioregions are mosaics of ecosystems, habitats, and communities

Within a bioregion lies a patchwork of land or aquatic uses.

Each patch provides habitats in which different species survive and flourish, and each has its own particular relationship to the region’s human population.

All of the elements are Interactive, the management of a watershed affects river habitats, farms, estuaries, fisheries, and coral reefs.

The components are also dynamic; each changes over time as rivers change course, fallow fields regenerate, storms batter coasts, and fires ravage forests. This dynamism gives a well managed bioregion the resilience and flexibility to adapt to natural evolution and human-induced activity, be it changing climate or changing markets.


Management And Conservation Issues Within Bioregions

Within this ecological and social framework, governmental, community, corporate, and other private interests share responsibility for coordinating land use planning for both public and private land and for defining and implementing development options that will ensure that human needs are met in a sustainable way.

Innovative forms of institutional integration and social cooperation are needed to meet these needs.

Dialogue among all interests, participatory planning, and institutional flexibility are essential.

A wide range of conservation tools and technologies must also be brought to bear — among them, protected-areas management, ex situ technologies*, landscape restoration, and sustainable management of such resources as forests, fisheries, and croplands.

*ex situ conservation: Any conservation method that entails removal of individual plants or propagating material (seed, pollen, tissue) from its site of natural occurrence, i.e. conservation “off-site” in gene banks as seed, tissue or pollen; in plantations; or in other live collections, such as ex situ conservation stands.