A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of 'wild nature' for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.
A park is an area of natural, semi-natural or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation or for the protection of wildlife or natural habitats. Urban parks are green spaces set aside for recreation inside towns and cities. National parks and Country parks are green spaces used for recreation in the countryside. State parks and Provincial parks are administered by sub-national government states and agencies. Parks may consist of grassy areas, rocks, soil and trees, but may also contain buildings and other artifacts such as monuments, fountains or playground structures. Many parks have fields for playing sports such as soccer, baseball and football, and paved areas for games such as basketball. Many parks have trails for walking, biking and other activities. Some parks are built adjacent to bodies of water or watercourses and may comprise a beach or boat dock area. Urban parks often have benches for sitting and may contain picnic tables and barbecue grills.
Conservation is an ethic of resource use, allocation, and protection. Its primary focus is upon maintaining the health of the natural world, its fisheries, habitats, and biological diversity. Secondary focus is on material conservation, including non-renewable resources such as metals, minerals and fossil fuels, and energy conservation, which is important to protect the natural world. Those who follow the conservation ethic and, especially, those who advocate or work toward conservation goals are termed conservationists.
An international organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), has defined "National Park" as its Category II type of protected areas. According to the IUCN, 6,555 national parks worldwide met its criteria in 2006. IUCN is still discussing the parameters of defining a national park.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education. IUCN's mission is to "influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable".
The World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) is one of six commissions of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
While this type of national park had been proposed previously, the United States established the first "public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people", Yellowstone National Park, in 1872.Although Yellowstone was not officially termed a "national park" in its establishing law, it was always termed such in practice and is widely held to be the first and oldest national park in the world. However, the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve (established in 1776), and the area surrounding Bogd Khan Uul Mountain (1778) are seen as the oldest legally protected areas, predating Yellowstone by nearly a century.
Yellowstone National Park is an American national park located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone was the first national park in the U.S. and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world. The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular features. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.
The Bogd Khan Mountain is a mountain in Mongolia that overlooks the nation's capital, Ulaanbaatar, from a height of 3000 feet (914 m) above and to the south of the city.
Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international organizations involved.
National parks are almost always open to visitors.
In 1969, the IUCN declared a national park to be a relatively large area with the following defining characteristics:
In 1971, these criteria were further expanded upon leading to more clear and defined benchmarks to evaluate a national park. These include:
While the term national park is now defined by the IUCN, many protected areas in many countries are called national park even when they correspond to other categories of the IUCN Protected Area Management Definition, for example:
While national parks are generally understood to be administered by national governments (hence the name), in Australia national parks are run by state governments and predate the Federation of Australia; similarly, national parks in the Netherlands are administered by the provinces.In Canada, there are both national parks operated by the federal government and provincial or territorial parks operated by the provincial and territorial governments, although nearly all are still national parks by the IUCN definition.
In many countries, including Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, national parks do not adhere to the IUCN definition, while some areas which adhere to the IUCN definition are not designated as national parks.
In 1810, the English poet William Wordsworth described the Lake District as a "sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy."The painter George Catlin, in his travels through the American West, wrote during the 1830s that the Native Americans in the United States might be preserved "(by some great protecting policy of government) ...in a magnificent park ...A nation's Park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature's beauty!"
The first effort by the U.S. Federal government to set aside such protected lands was on 20 April 1832, when President Andrew Jackson signed legislation that the 22nd United States Congress had enacted to set aside four sections of land around what is now Hot Springs, Arkansas, to protect the natural, thermal springs and adjoining mountainsides for the future disposal of the U.S. government. It was known as Hot Springs Reservation, but no legal authority was established. Federal control of the area was not clearly established until 1877.
John Muir is today referred to as the "Father of the National Parks" due to his work in Yosemite.He published two influential articles in The Century Magazine, which formed the base for the subsequent legislation.
President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act of Congress on 1 July 1864, ceding the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias (later becoming Yosemite National Park) to the state of California. According to this bill, private ownership of the land in this area was no longer possible. The state of California was designated to manage the park for "public use, resort, and recreation". Leases were permitted for up to ten years and the proceeds were to be used for conservation and improvement. A public discussion followed this first legislation of its kind and there was a heated debate over whether the government had the right to create parks. The perceived mismanagement of Yosemite by the Californian state was the reason why Yellowstone, at its establishment six years later, was put under national control.
In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the United States' first national park,being also the world's first national park. In some European and Asian countries, however, national protection and nature reserves already existed, such as a part of the Forest of Fontainebleau (France, 1861).
Yellowstone was part of a federally governed territory. With no state government that could assume stewardship of the land, the federal government took on direct responsibility for the park, the official first national park of the United States. The combined effort and interest of conservationists, politicians and the Northern Pacific Railroad ensured the passage of enabling legislation by the United States Congress to create Yellowstone National Park. Theodore Roosevelt and his group of conservationists, the Boone and Crockett Club, were already an active campaigners, and so influential, as good stump speakers were highly necessary in the pre-telecommunications era, was highly influential in convincing fellow Republicans and big business to back the bill. Yellowstone National Park soon played a pivotal role in the conservation of these national treasures, as it was suffering at the hands of poachers and others who stood at the ready to pillage what they could from the area. Theodore Roosevelt and his newly formed Boone and Crockett Club successfully took the lead in protecting Yellowstone National Park from this plight, resulting in laws designed to conserve the natural resources in Yellowstone and other parks under the Government's purview.
American Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner wrote:
National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.
In his book Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks, Mark David Spence made the point that in order to create these uninhabited spaces, the United States first had to dispossess the Indians who were living in them.
The first area to use "national park" in its creation legislation was the U.S.'s Mackinac National Park, in 1875. (The area was later transferred to the state's authority in 1895, thus losing its official "national park" status).)
Following the idea established in Yellowstone and Mackinac, there soon followed parks in other nations. In Australia, the Royal National Park was established just south of Sydney on 26 April 1879, becoming the world's second official national parkSince Mackinac lost its national park status, Royal National Park is, by some considerations, the second oldest national park now in existence.
Rocky Mountain National Park became Canada's first national park in 1885. New Zealand established Tongariro National Park in 1887.
In Europe, the first national parks were a set of nine parks in Sweden in 1909, followed by the Swiss National Park in 1914. Africa's first national park was established in 1925 when Albert I of Belgium designated an area of what is now Democratic Republic of Congo centred on the Virunga Mountains as the Albert National Park (since renamed Virunga National Park). In 1926, the government of South Africa designated Kruger National Park as the nation's first national park, although it was an expansion of the earlier Sabie Game Reserve established in 1898 by President Paul Kruger of the old South African Republic, after whom the park was named. Argentina became the third country in the Americas to create a national park system, with the creation of the Nahuel Huapi National Park in 1934, through the initiative of Francisco Moreno.
After World War II, national parks were founded all over the world. The United Kingdom designated its first national park, Peak District National Park, in 1951. This followed perhaps 70 years of pressure for greater public access to the landscape. By the end of the decade a further nin national parks had been designated in the UK. [ citation needed ] The Vanoise National Park in the Alps was the first French national park, created in 1963 after public mobilization against a touristic project.Europe has some 359 national parks as of 2010.
In 1971, Lahemaa National Park in Estonia was the first area to be designated a national park in the former Soviet Union.
In 1973, Mount Kilimanjaro was classified as a National Park and was opened to public access in 1977.
In 1989, the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve (QNNP) was created to protect 3.381 million hectares on the north slope of Mount Everest in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. This national park is the first major global park to have no separate warden and protection staff—all of its management being done through existing local authorities, allowing a lower cost basis and a larger geographical coverage (in 1989 when created, it was the largest protected area in Asia). It includes four of the six highest mountains Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu. The QNNP is contiguous to four Nepali national parks, creating a transborder conservation area equal in size to Switzerland.
The world's first national park service was established 19 May 1911, in Canada. km2 of national park space.The Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act placed the dominion parks under the administration of the Dominion Park Branch (now Parks Canada). The branch was established to "protect sites of natural wonder" to provide a recreational experience, centered on the idea of the natural world providing rest and spiritual renewal from the urban setting. Canada now has the largest protected area in the world with 377,000
Even with the creation of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and nearly 37 other national parks and monuments, another 44 years passed before an agency was created in the United States to administer these units in a comprehensive way – the U.S. National Park Service (NPS). The 64th United States Congress passed the National Park Service Organic Act, which President Woodrow Wilson signed into law on 25 August 1916. Of the 419 sites managed by the National Park Service of the United States, only 61 carry the designation of National Park.
The largest national park in the world meeting the IUCN definition is the Northeast Greenland National Park, which was established in 1974.
The smallest official national park in the world is Isles des Madeleines National Park. Its area of just .45 square kilometres (0.17 sq mi) was established as a national park in 1976.
Countries with a large nature-based tourism industry, such as Costa Rica, often experience a huge economic effect on park management as well as the economy of the country as a whole.
Tourism to national parks has increased considerably over time. In Costa Rica for example, a megadiverse country, tourism to parks has increased by 400% from 1985 to 1999.The term national park is perceived as a brand name that is associated with nature-based tourism and it symbolizes a "high quality natural environment with a well-designed tourist infrastructure".
The duties of a park ranger are to supervise, manage, and/or perform work in the conservation and use of Federal park resources. This involves functions such as park conservation; natural, historical, and cultural resource management; and the development and operation of interpretive and recreational programs for the benefit of the visiting public. Park rangers also have fire fighting responsibilities and execute search and rescue missions. Activities also include heritage interpretation to disseminate information to visitors of general, historical, or scientific information. Management of resources such as wildlife, lakeshores, seashores, forests, historic buildings, battlefields, archeological properties, and recreation areas are also part of the job of a park ranger.Since the establishment of the National Park Service in the US in 1916, the role of the park ranger has shifted from merely being a custodian of natural resources to include several activities that are associated with law enforcement. They control traffic and investigate violations, complaints, trespass/encroachment, and accidents.
Yosemite National Park is an American national park located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California, bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 748,436 acres and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.
A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research. Nature reserves may be designated by government institutions in some countries, or by private landowners, such as charities and research institutions, regardless of nationality. Nature reserves fall into different IUCN categories depending on the level of protection afforded by local laws. Normally it is more strictly protected than a nature park.
The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management, while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment.
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the sub-national level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational potential. There are state parks under the administration of the government of each U.S. state, some of the Mexican states, and in Brazil. The term is also used in the Australian state of Victoria. The equivalent term used in Canada, Argentina, South Africa and Belgium, is provincial park. Similar systems of local government maintained parks exist in other countries, but the terminology varies.
Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure." The term has traditionally referred to terrestrial environments, though growing attention is being placed on marine wilderness. Recent maps of wilderness suggest it covers roughly one quarter of Earth's terrestrial surface, but is being rapidly degraded by human activity. Even less wilderness remains in the ocean, with only 13.2% free from intense human activity.
A park ranger, park warden, or forest ranger is a person entrusted with protecting and preserving parklands – national, state, provincial, or local parks. "Parks" may be broadly defined by some systems in this context, and include protected culturally or historically important built environments, and is not limited to the natural environment. Different countries use different names for the position. Warden is the favored term in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Within the United States, the National Park Service refers to the position as a park ranger. The U.S. Forest Service refers to the position as a forest ranger. Other countries use the term park warden or game warden to describe this occupation. The profession includes a number of disciplines and specializations, and park rangers are often required to be proficient in more than one.
National Parks of Canada are protected natural spaces throughout the country that represent distinct geographical regions of the nation. Under the administration of Parks Canada, a government branch, National Parks allow for public enjoyment without compromising the area for future generations, including the management of wildlife and habitat within the ecosystems of the park. Within Parks Canada's administration is a wide range of protected areas, encompassing National Historic Sites, National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCA), and National Park Reserves.
A wildlife refuge, also known as a wildlife sanctuary, is a naturally occurring sanctuary, such as an island, that provides protection for wildlife species from hunting, predation, competition or poaching; it is a protected area, a geographic landmark within which wildlife is protected. Refuges preserve animals that are endangered or even the animal which seems to go endangered in the future.
Community-based conservation is a conservation movement that emerged in the 1980s through escalating protests and subsequent dialogue with local communities affected by international attempts to protect the biodiversity of the earth. Older conservation movements disregarded the interests of local inhabitants. This stems from the Western idea on which the conservation movement was founded, of nature being separate from culture. The object of community-based conservation is to incorporate improvement to the lives of local people while conserving areas through the creation of national parks or wildlife refuges. While there have been some notable successes, unfortunately community-based conservation has often been ineffective because of inadequate resources, uneven implementation, and over-wishful planning. Some critics have also complained about often unintended neocolonialist undertones involved in the particular conservation projects.
Marine protected areas (MPA) are protected areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or in the US, the Great Lakes. These marine areas can come in many forms ranging from wildlife refuges to research facilities. MPAs restrict human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. Such marine resources are protected by local, state, territorial, native, regional, national, or international authorities and differ substantially among and between nations. This variation includes different limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on removing or disrupting marine life. In some situations, MPAs also provide revenue for countries, potentially equal to the income that they would have if they were to grant companies permissions to fish.
Harvey Locke is a conservationist, writer, and photographer. He is a recognized global leader in the field of parks, wilderness, wildlife and large landscape conservation. He is a founder of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, with the goal to create a continuous corridor for wildlife from Yellowstone National Park in the United States to the Yukon in Northern Canada. In 1999 Locke was named one of Canada's leaders for the 21st century by Time Magazine Canada. In 2013, he received the J.B. Harkin Medal for Conservation and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2014 he was awarded the Fred M. Packard Award for outstanding service to protected areas by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia. Locke also received in 2014 the Gold Leaf Award from the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas for his lifetime of extraordinary commitment and vision to advance the cause of parks, wilderness, ecological integrity and landscape connectivity in North America and the world. Locke is a co-founder of the Nature Needs Half Movement.
IUCN protected area categories, or IUCN protected area management categories, are categories used to classify protected areas in a system developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).