Mixed-wood Acadian forests, sand dunes stretched along seaboards, and coastal islands are some of the unique ecosystems of the Atlantic Maritime Ecozone. It extends from the Gaspé Peninsula at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River southwest through Quebec to the U.S. border south of Sherbrooke. It also includes the three maritime provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
The harvesting of forests was made possible after the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. As the climate continued to moderate, southern temperate vegetation migrated north, merged with existing boreal forests, and spread as the unique mixed-wood forest now characteristic of much of the area. The ecozone's forests have contributed to the development of a distinctive Atlantic Canadian way of life since the area was first settled.
Where tidal mixing and upwelling of deep nutrient-rich waters occur, excellent finfish and lobster fisheries have prospered. Fishing has traditionally played a pivotal role in the ecozone's history. Today, it is threatened by a diminishing resource base, and aquaculture, mining, and tourism are the preferred alternatives.
History of human settlement within the Atlantic Maritime Ecozone is intimately linked to its coastline. Both the Mi'kmaqs and Maliseet aboriginal populations, who once inhabiting most of the ecozone, relied on coasts and major waterways for transportation, food, and recreation. The first Europeans to arrive in Atlantic Canada in the 17th century settled in coastal lowlands with promising harbours.
The ecozone saw frequent battles over natural resources. Control was passed from the Mi'kmaq-Maliseet to the French, then to dual sovereignty of France and Britain in 1713, and eventually to the British in 1763.