Leopold explains how he perceives the difference between land and country. He defines land as something that exists on a human scale: land can have mortgages, it can be owned. Country, in contrast, is “the personality of the land,” and cannot be owned. “Poor land may be rich country, and vice versa.” Leopold suggests noting the wildlife of an area to determine whether the country is rich or not.
Leopold can find non-monetary value in the land by separating it from the concept of country. While land has a monetary value, country has a value that is harder to define—it is unrelated to money, and more related to the animals living on it, the history of the place, and its cultural context.
Leopold complains that many people only want to see “scenic” places, and only judge country to be good if there is something grand or shocking there, such as “waterfalls, cliffs, and lakes.” However, Leopold argues there is beauty in the plains and prairies, and that a beholder must simply pay closer attention to the landscape.
Leopold respects and values most landscapes, and encourages his readers to do the same. Just because a landscape is not shockingly beautiful does not mean it doesn’t deserve to exist. Subtler landscapes can also have rich ecosystems or rich histories, and deserve protection.