Depicting the ecological functioning and the natural wealth of every one of Canada’s special places is not possible. Our natural riches are just too great. We all should be most thankful.

What we have tried to do here is to touch on some highlights of a few “Special Places”. Using the few fundamental natural processes from our earlier book1 we have assembled a basic view of how natural processes come together to make these selected places function as whole environments. Many aspects have been left out, so none of the accounts is intended to be comprehensive. Instead, we hope that each has given you a grasp of how that place works as an ecological system and how human values and activities influence that working.

Natural processes function to support natural structures, the visible riches of our natural wealth. The photographs embody our views of the beauty displayed by that natural wealth. Perception of natural beauty, like any other aesthetic perception, is a personal interpretation. We hope that you have used your own perceptive filter to interpret our images in your intimate way. In addition to the beauty of visible structures, we also hope that you may have discovered the beauty in the underlying processes that produced and continue to support those visible features.

You probably have wondered about the several geographic scales that we have used to describe a “place”. Our ecosystem is global and, in fact, because the sun must be included, is galactic. Ecologically, any smaller “place” is arbitrary. So the Boreal Forest is a reasonable unit of environment. So is the Crown of the Continent and so is the Bay of Fundy. Smaller places lose some simplicity because they require accounting for many, many forces and flows crossing into and out of them. It is worth remembering that characteristic of small fragments of environments. Their great length of edge puts at risk the system in their small core simply because so many outside forces are constantly crossing their borders. Safeguarding fragments defends only one fragment at a time, not the whole landscape.

We hope that you will apply your own experiential knowledge to distil such considerations from our brief introductions to these Special Places. But our main purpose is simply to raise the value that we Canadians place on our heritage of numerous, large areas of natural wealth. Canada has perhaps the greatest amount of natural capital of any nation and if we allow our capital to be fatally eroded, we shall be most unwise.

1Amos, Jeff and Gray Merriam, Discovering Natural Processes, Penumbra Press, Manotick, 2005