The Manchester-Mersey Bioregion – and the bioregional concept.

Click here to see a map of the Manchester-Mersey Bioregion.

Our bioregion is diverse:-

Urban sprawl. Rich farmland in Cheshire and Lancashire.   Forest and woodland, heath and moorland.  West -facing Pennine slopes. Built-up estuary. Coastal plain.

It contains many of the resources that we will need for regional self-sufficiency. We need to get to know and understand it better – here is a brief summary from the Environment Agency. http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/planning/33192.aspx

Funnily enough Greater Manchester has  just (22 April 09) received government agreement to function as a more autonomous ‘City Region’.  While it is good that the region will have more power to determine its own policies it seems  a shame that the definition is restricted to the conurbation since this leaves out the rural hinterland essential for a more self sufficient local economy.  However, maybe that can be addressed later on as part of an integrated bioregional energy descent plan.  The first serious analysis of the City Region was first addressed it seems in the review by Joe Ravetz of the 1824 Univ. of Manchester – “City Region 2020: Integrated Planning for a Sustainable Environment” is a really useful source of ideas and analysis and unlike the dominant models and much subsequent discussion about the city region it really does take a serious and systemic approach to the question of sustainability (I got my copy second hand for about £3 via Amazon).

We’ve now given the project a less chauvinistic and more accurate name – referring to the Manchester-Mersey bioregion‘. However, whatever we call the territory, the key is to understand the bioregional concept and ultimately this will define its boundaries. For now the Mersey valley catchement area or watershed is the working concept with for now an emphasis on the urban area of Greater Manchester This isn’t meant to be exclusive of final – it reflects where we are based and our knowledge and resources. Join us and help develop this thinking. contactgdm@googlemail.com

Here is a useful set of ideas for exploring the bioregional concept.  Also see this site.

The bioregional concept has been around for some time.  See Sale, K (1985)  Dwellers in the Land, San Francisco (USA):  Sierra Club for a key text.  Note that the boundaries of a bioregion are not hard or definite, like a political region.  Some areas might be considered as part of more than one bioregion.  The bioregion itself can be subdivided – Sale distinguishes betwen the ecoregion (probably bigger than our Manchester-Mersey bioregion) and smaller, nested georegions (often,as here deined by river catchments or wathersheds) , and smaller morphoregions – e.g. the Dane valley around Congleton, the Pennine foothills above Rochdale, or the fertile coastal plain between the Ribble estuary and Liverpoool.   BioRegional – an NGO that works with business, governmment and communities on sustainable development have also used the bioregional concept and  although they do so  in a rather undefined way, their emphasis on local sustainability and on closed loop economic activity is consistent with the bioregional approach as understood here.

Map: The Manchester-Mersey Bioregion - click to download image

Map: The Manchester-Mersey Bioregion

The mersey watershed - one definition of the Manchester bioregion.

The mersey watershed - one definition of the Manchester bioregion.

2 responses to “The Manchester-Mersey Bioregion – and the bioregional concept.

  1. Pingback: Greater Manchester Combined Authority is a model for regional cities – and could be a resource for Steady State | Steady State Manchester

  2. Pingback: The Viable Economy serialised – About Space, Democracy and Ownership | Steady State Manchester

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