This paper discusses the interest of binary partition trees as a region-oriented image representation. Binary partition trees concentrate in a compact and structured representation a set of meaningful regions that can be extracted from an image. They offer a multiscale representation of the image and define a translation invariant 2-connectivity rule among regions. As shown in this paper, this representation can be used for a large number of processing goals such as filtering, segmentation, information retrieval and visual browsing. Furthermore, the processing of the tree representation leads to very efficient algorithms. Finally, for some applications, it may be interesting to compute the binary partition tree once and to store it for subsequent use for various applications. In this context, the paper shows that the amount of bits necessary to encode a binary partition tree remains moderate.