In Praise of Protected Lands and Special Places on Martha’s Vineyard, by Tess Bramhall, published by the Land Protection Fund for Martha’s Vineyard, a component of the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, Villanit Printers Inc., 71 pages, hardcover, $27.

New book by Tess Bramhall is published by the Land Protection Fund for Martha’s Vineyard, a component of the Permanent Endowment.

When a friend asked Tess Bramhall, a longtime Island conservationist, a question about the Waskosim’s Rock Reservation that she could not answer, she set out to learn more about the Island’s protected land and to illuminate its value.

In her new book, In Praise of Protected Lands and Special Places on Martha’s Vineyard, Ms. Bramhall pays tribute to “a cross section of the Vineyard’s preserved lands.” The book is a bit of a love story, a gentle ecological and historical tour of 21 of the Island’s most beautiful protected places.

Ms. Bramhall weaves in credit to the individual land owners and conservation groups who have made it possible for 40 per cent of the Island land to be conserved. That is an astonishing amount of preserved acreage and a testament to the care people feel for this Island. Without these open spaces, the very essence of the Island would be lost.

“With its expanding population,” Ms. Bramhall writes, “and with the pressure of rising sea levels and eroding shorelines our Island is squeezed considerably. Because of this squeeze we need to strike a thoughtful balance between what is good for its residents and what is good for the land itself.”

Conserved land allows us room to roam, to breathe deeply, to connect with the natural world. And the author writes: “Let us never forget that protected land is crucial to saving the precious natural resources on which we all depend.”

The book includes more than 20 exceptional paintings of the Island’s natural spaces by Ms. Bramhall’s husband, the noted landscape artist Kib Bramhall, as well as photographs, paintings and woodcuts by friends of the author.

Of Quansoo Farm she writes: “On an overcast day in early autumn, the soft muted greens in the meadow along with occasional vivid goldenrod and pale wheat colored grasses glow with oncoming rusty red sumac. It is an exquisite property, particularly with varied views of Black Point Pond and the low dunes beyond framing the scene.”

Frost bottoms, salt marshes and the site of a former brick-making factory are preserved. The Long Point Wildlife Refuge in West Tisbury was once a duck hunting club. The Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary on the shore of Sengekontacket Pond is named after a 17th century Wampanoag man.

Windy Gates, painted by Kib Bramhall.

Ms. Bramhall traces the Islands’s geology, notably the intriguing natural history of the Gay Head Cliffs, and offers this about the Menemsha Hills Reservation: “ . . . with its hilly, morainal topography, there is much sand high on the Island hills and old windswept forests, and several rare habitats such as vernal pools and scrub oak shrub-land, all of which reflects the geological forces that shaped the Island.”

Allen Farm in Chilmark and Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown are featured. Ms. Bramhall notes that the “ . . . conservation organizations see the great value in encouraging and partnering with those involved in local agriculture.”

The book is not a trail guide with directions and maps (although is makes a nice companion to William Flender’s excellent Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard pocket guide); instead it imbues each property with a sense of time and place.

Sadly, the towns of Oak Bluffs and Tisbury are shortchanged. Only Ocean and Owen Parks are featured, not even the Southern Woodlands Preserve in Oak Bluffs, one of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank’s largest properties and one the community fought hard to save from becoming another golf course.

In the afterword, Ms. Bramhall makes her case for land protection: “The land is a precious resource whose magic could be lost if the effort to conserve it isn’t pursued vigorously. We must never forget that the land is our home.”

After immersing myself in In Praise of Protected Lands and Special Places of Martha’s Vineyard I was left feeling grateful for the Bramhalls’ conservation and artistic contributions to the Island community.

Liz Durkee lives in Oak Bluffs.