In September, 1997, we welcomed •he ,s:t Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Canadian Council of Ecological Areas (CCEA) to the province of New Brunswick. This provice has a diverse array of landforms. overlying a complex geological base and supporting a rich and varied complement of flora and fauna. The forests of the north cenlral part of the province are boreal in character, while those of the extreme northwest are dominated by tolerant hardwoods and much of the rest is transitional Acadian forest composed of species such as red spruce, sugar maple, white pine, and yellow birch. The hydrology and underlying parent materials result in a wide variety of wetland types and rivers, each supporting a characteristic suite of wild life. The coastllne is extensive and varies from sand dunes to high rocky cliffs and outcrops, while the ocean is home to a diversity of marine life.

The theme of the Conference was “Protected Areas and the Bottom Line”, a phrase which seems to preoccupy much of our thinking these days, whether we are making personal decisions, formulating public policy or creating marketable products. Although the “bottom line” in these situations usually refers to financial considerations, we believe that our individual and collective well-being requires a mote elaborate accounting of the ecological processes and life forms that support us. The conference logo is the Greek symbol for oikos. which is the origin of word “ecology” (oecology), meaning the study of the household. This figure surrounds or embodies a stylized image of the Earth, representing the dynamic interplay of air, land and water. In another sense, then, the conference theme inspires us to contemplate the idea of a multi-faceted “bottom line” that integrales ecological, societal, and economic values,

We believe that the conference provoked a few moments of thoughtful reflection. respectful dialogue, and, perhaps, a few innovative solutions to the real and imagined problems associated w~h decisions to set aside land for conservation purposes. It should come as no surprise that there are consequences resulting from our actions in terms of development options, but the converse is also true. Land should never be regardedassoplentifulorsocheapthatwecanaffordtogiveitallaway. Amoreprudentresponse,akintosavinga porlion of our income as insurance for a rainy day or as a bequest to our children, would be to ensure that wemakereasonabledecisionsnow,whilewestillcan. Futuregenerationswillappreciateourforesight,just as we must thank the wisdom of our forebears in preserving the expanses of what we now recognize as many of our last remaining wildlands.

CCEA 1997 Conference Proceedings