Know Your EcoRegion

Level I

Level III

Portland, OR.

Level I: Marine West Coast Forest
Leval II: Marine West Coast Forest
Level III Willamette Valley
Level IV: Portland Basin

I have recently become obsessed with looking at and creating maps of ecoregions. I would need to get high resolution satellite images to make this tast easier for me. Ecoregional maps shift my perception of the terrain away from political boundaries and towards ecological flows and gradations. When I trace my life path over ecoregional maps, the ambient environmental cues that made each place itself, and different than other places, become more and more apparent.

However, unlike political boundaries, ecoregions are not very well defined. In part this is due to the fact that they have fuzzy boundaries. It is difficult to place an exact line for where an ecoregion begins, because the exist in gradations called ecotones. In addition, there is no universally agreed upon legal standard for what or where ecoregions are in the world. I have been following the (mostly now dead) debates on wikipedia to classify the world’s ecosystems, and there is clearly no consensus. (here, here and here).

WARNING: Maps of ecoregions should not be mistaken for the reality on the ground. Maps, as demarcated by international state and non-state actors should not be a substitute for the continued use of local, embedded and embodied knowledge. Still I need observation and sustained interaction continues to be the best means for the individual to appreciate and comprehend the complex systems that sustain life on the planet and our relationship to it. Promoting and incorporating the many ways of knowing the world (especially the arrational, the irrational and the non-euclidian) is a matter of cognitive justice, our planet depends on it.

That being said, I do see a real value in creating maps and standards for ecoregions that knit together the pattern that connects.

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