Delineating the Southwest British Columbia Bioregion for Food System Design and Planning: A Practical Approach


  • Greg Harris Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Denver Nixon University of Oxford
  • Lenore Newman University of the Fraser Valley
  • Kent Mullinix Kwantlen Polytechnic University



Bioregion, Ecoregion, Agriculture, Food Systems, Planning, Life Place, British Columbia, Canada


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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Author Biographies

Greg Harris, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Department of Biology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University; 20901 Langley Bypass; Langley, B.C. V3A 8G9 Canada; +1-604-599-2385.

Denver Nixon, University of Oxford

School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford, OUCE; South Parks Road; Oxford, OX1 3QY.

Lenore Newman, University of the Fraser Valley

Department of Geography and the Environment, University of the Fraser Valley; 33844 King Road; Abbotsford, B.C. V2S 7M7.

Kent Mullinix, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, Kwantlen Polytechnic University; 8771 Lansdowne Road; Richmond, B.C. V6X 3V8.



How to Cite

Harris, G., Nixon, D., Newman, L., & Mullinix, K. (2016). Delineating the Southwest British Columbia Bioregion for Food System Design and Planning: A Practical Approach. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(4), 71–86.



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