Wearne et al. 2023 contemporary bioregionalism

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Wearne, S., Hubbard, E., Jónás, K., & Wilke, M. (2023). A learning journey into contemporary bioregionalism. People and Nature, 5, 2124–2140. https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10548



  • The authors interviewed a network of bioregional authors, including themselves.
  • They explored both historical and recent concepts of bioregionalism, whereby human ecological is made sustainable or regenerative through engagement with local ecological patterns and limitations.
  • In turn, localized contextual analysis provides a mechanisms for increasing the rigor of sustainability analysis.
  • They identified three common motivational elements:
    • a decentering of human needs, in favor of a thriving coexistence among species.
    • A rational, analytical process for solving social-ecological problems by connecting smaller scale strategies to systematically solve larger scale problems.
    • A focus on immediate local agency and action.
  • They identified a common pattern of recursive sense-making through 1) contextualized experimentation within place, that then interacts with 2) decontextualized generalized, or abstract knowledge sharing among place-based experiences.
  • A range of risks were identified, including:
    • Adoption of bioregional concepts by non-humanist actors.
    • Distraction by idealism.
    • Local effort fails to address global patterns.
    • Unresolved challenges of high population density areas require extraction and transport.
    • Social-political barriers disable meaningful experimentation.