Towards a Social Bioregional Map

Social subsystems are extremely important elements of permaculture design. These soft-technologies, as opposed to physically manifest hardware-biological hard technology elements, are left in the bottom of the tool chest. Following in the libertarian municipalist strain of radical politics and bioregionalist trends I believe that federal and state political boundaries should be replaced with participatory democratic assemblies organized into regions based on the characteristics of the local ecosystem- bioregions. Surprisingly, I haven't come across a useful comprehensive map of US bioregions! The US EPA provides a series of what they call "ecoregions" at differing resolutions. The state of Georgia at the IV level has something like 60 micro-ecoregions and the country at level II has about 50. The bioregional movement appears to be using these kinds of ecoregions, based on soil type, geology, climate, water drainage and predominating ecosystems. While these regional distinctions might be appropriate for organizing the different ecosystems in the US they are not useful for organizing social systems around their land base.

USA EPA Level II Ecoregions

USA EPA Level II Ecoregions

Permaculture teachers and designers, for example, have a need to organize themselves around regions with similair environmental conditions to aid the coordination of permaculture research and education. Similair areas can use similair tools, techniques and species lists! However, current bioregions as defined by the EPA level II extend thousands of miles which makes traveling through and organizing in these ecoregions unpractical in an energy descent culture. Anyone familiar with the USDA hardiness zones also knows that different latitudes support different plant communities.

USDA Out-of-Date Hardiness Zone Map

Out-of-Date USDA Hardiness Zone Map

I propose a bioregional map based on a hybrid of the EPA level II ecoregions and the USDA hardiness zones. Unfortunately, under the Bush Administration the up to date hardiness zone map based on the changes in climate were suppressed and are unavailable. In 2006, however, the National Arbor Day Foundation created a new hardiness map with climate data from the Meteorological Evaluation Services Co., Inc. of Amityville, NY, using temperature data collected from July 1986 to March 2002.

NADF Hardiness Zone Map (2006)

As you can plainly see the climate is getting warmer.