Delineating the Southwest British Columbia Bioregion for Food System Design and Planning: A Practical Approach
In light of climate change, resource depletion and environmental degradation, food system vulnerability, and food insecurity, the potential to address issues of food system sustainability on local and regional scales is being increasingly recognized and pursued. Bioregions, generally defined as areas that share similar topography, plant and animal life, and human culture, represent an appropriate and consistently applicable scale and framework for sustainable food system analysis, design, and planning. As such, for a southwest British Columbia (SWBC) bioregion food system design and planning project, our first task was to delineate our bioregion. We report on the process, deliberations, and practical considerations that contributed to the determination of the SWBC bioregion for subsequent study. In addition to a complex biogeographic landscape that includes mountains, a major river system and delta, and a marine ecosystem, SWBC’s multicultural and urban/suburban/rural character is further compounded by its proximity to Vancouver Island, as well as by an international border with the Pacific Northwest United States; all represented important considerations in determining the dimensions of the bioregion. Bioregional-scale food system design and planning brings to the forefront the interdependency between human economy and community and the biophysical landscape with which they interact. In this reflective essay, we share our experience in the hope that it will inform the work of other communities in effectively delineating bioregions for food system design and planning that better align human communities and their economy with their environment. We believe the methodology presented has potential for widespread adaptation.
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