National park

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Bogd Khan Uul National Park in Mongolia is one of the earliest preserved areas now called a national park. Bogdkhan Uul Strictly Protected Area, Mongolia (149199747).jpg
Bogd Khan Uul National Park in Mongolia is one of the earliest preserved areas now called a national park.
National parks often allow protected species to flourish. Pictured are Alpine ibexes (Capra ibex) in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Piedmont, Italy. The Ibex population increased tenfold since the area was declared a national park in 1922. Stambecchi nel Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso.jpg
National parks often allow protected species to flourish. Pictured are Alpine ibexes (Capra ibex) in the Gran Paradiso National Park, Piedmont, Italy. The Ibex population increased tenfold since the area was declared a national park in 1922.

A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. 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. [1]

Contents

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. [2] 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. [3]

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. [4] Although Yellowstone was not officially termed a "national park" in its establishing law, it was always termed such in practice [5] 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), [6] and the area surrounding Bogd Khan Uul Mountain (1778) are seen as the oldest legally protected areas, predating Yellowstone by nearly a century. [7] [8]

National parks are almost always open to visitors. [9]

Definitions

Landscapes of the Koli National Park in North Karelia, Finland, have inspired many painters and composers, e.g. Jean Sibelius, Juhani Aho and Eero Jarnefelt. Koli 2019 2.jpg
Landscapes of the Koli National Park in North Karelia, Finland, have inspired many painters and composers, e.g. Jean Sibelius, Juhani Aho and Eero Järnefelt.
Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica was listed by Forbes as one of the world's 12 most beautiful national parks. Puerto Escondido P N Manuel Antonio.JPG
Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica was listed by Forbes as one of the world's 12 most beautiful national parks.
Beech trees in Mallard Wood, New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England Beech trees in Mallard Wood, New Forest - geograph.org.uk - 779513.jpg
Beech trees in Mallard Wood, New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England

In 1969, the IUCN declared a national park to be a relatively large area with the following defining characteristics: [12]

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: [9] [13]

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. [9] 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. [14]

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. [9]

History

Early references

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." [15] 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!" [16]

Starting in 1735 the Naples government undertook laws in order to protect Natural areas, which could be used as a game reserve by the royal family; Procida was the first protected site; [17] the difference between the many previous royal hunting preserves and this one, which is considered to be closer to a Park rather than a hunting preserve, [18] is that Neapolitan government already considered the division into the present-day wilderness areas and non-strict nature reserves.

First efforts: Hot Springs, Arkansas and Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, in California, United States Tunnel View, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite NP - Diliff.jpg
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, in California, United States

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. [19] [20] [21] It was known as Hot Springs Reservation, but no legal authority was established. Federal control of the area was not clearly established until 1877. [19]

John Muir is today referred to as the "Father of the National Parks" due to his work in Yosemite. [22] He published two influential articles in The Century Magazine, which formed the base for the subsequent legislation. [23] [24]

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. [25] [26]

First national park in the United States: Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States; Yellowstone was the first national park in the world. Grand prismatic spring.jpg
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States; Yellowstone was the first national park in the world.

In 1872, Yellowstone National Park was established as the United States' first national park, [27] 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). [28]

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." [29]

International growth of national parks

Royal National Park, Australia Late Afternoon at North & South Era.jpg
Royal National Park, Australia

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). [30] [31] )

Following the idea established in Yellowstone and Mackinac, there soon followed parks in other nations. In Australia, what is now Royal National Park was established just south of Sydney on 26 April 1879, becoming the world's second official national park [32] Since Mackinac lost its national park status, Royal National Park is, by some considerations, the second oldest national park now in existence. [31] [33] [34]

Lago Covel in the Stelvio National Park, Italy Bergtocht van Peio Paese naar Lago Covel (1,839 m) in het Nationaal park Stelvio (Italie). Lago Covel (1,839 m).jpg
Lago Covel in the Stelvio National Park, Italy

Banff National Park became Canada's first national park in 1885. New Zealand established Tongariro National Park in 1887.

View from the Gamrig to the Lilienstein at Saxon Switzerland National Park after sunrise Lilienstein Saxon Switzerland.jpg
View from the Gamrig to the Lilienstein at Saxon Switzerland National Park after sunrise

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 nine national parks had been designated in the UK. [35] Europe has some 359 national parks as of 2010.[ 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.

Viru bog in the Lahemaa National Park before sunrise Viru raba enne paikesetousu.jpg
Viru bog in the Lahemaa National Park before sunrise

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. [36]

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 tallest mountains in the world: 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. [37]

National parks services

The world's first national park service was established May 19, 1911, in Canada. [38] [39] The Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act placed the dominion parks under the administration of the Dominion Park Branch (now Parks Canada), within the Department of the Interior. The branch was established to "protect sites of natural wonder" to provide a recreational experience, centred on the idea of the natural world providing rest and spiritual renewal from the urban setting. [40] Canada now has the largest protected area in the world with 450,000 km2 of national park space. [41]

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 423 sites managed by the National Park Service of the United States, only 61 carry the designation of National Park. [42]

Notable parks

Painting (ca. 1900) of the Teufelsschloss in Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Fjord, East Greenland. The site is now part of the Northeast Greenland National Park. Teufelsschloss-greenland.jpg
Painting (ca. 1900) of the Teufelsschloss in Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Fjord, East Greenland. The site is now part of the Northeast Greenland National Park.

The largest national park in the world meeting the IUCN definition is the Northeast Greenland National Park, which was established in 1974 and is 972,000 km2 (375,000 sq mi) in area.

The smallest official national park in the world is Isles des Madeleines National Park. Its area of just 0.45 square kilometres (0.17 sq mi) was established as a national park in 1976. [43]

Economic ramifications

Countries with a large ecotourism 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. [44]

Tourism

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. [44] 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". [45]

Staff

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, lake shores, seashores, forests, historic buildings, battlefields, archaeological properties, and recreation areas are also part of the job of a park ranger. [46] 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. [47] They control traffic and investigate violations, complaints, trespass/encroachment, and accidents. [46]

See also

Related Research Articles

A wilderness area is a region where the land is in a natural state; where impacts from human activities are minimal—that is, as a wilderness. It might also be called a wild or natural area. Especially in wealthier, industrialized nations, it has a specific legal meaning as well: as land where development is prohibited by law. Many nations have designated wilderness areas, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

Protected area

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. Generally speaking though, protected areas are understood to be those in which human presence or at least the exploitation of natural resources is limited.

International Union for Conservation of Nature International organization

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".

Nature reserve Protected area for flora, fauna or features of geological interest

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 purposes of conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research. They may be designated by government institutions in some countries, or by private landowners, such as charities and research institutions. 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. Various jurisdictions may use other terminology, such as ecological protection area or private protected area in legislation and in official titles of the reserves.

National Park Service United States federal agency

The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the federal government of the United States that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. The United States Congress created the agency on August 25, 1916 through the National Park Service Organic Act.

State park Protected area managed at the federated state level

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 states of Victoria and New South Wales. 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 Undisturbed natural environment

Wilderness or wildlands, are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. 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.

Park ranger Person who protects and preserves parklands

A ranger, park ranger, park warden, or forest ranger is a person entrusted with protecting and preserving parklands – national, state, provincial, or local parks.

National Parks of Canada

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 Canadian 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.

Community-based conservation is a conservation movement that emerged in the 1980s, in response to escalating protests and subsequent dialogue with local communities affected by international attempts to protect the biodiversity of the earth. These contentions were a reaction against traditional 'top down' conservation practices, whereby governments or large organisations exert control at a local level, which were perceived as disregarding 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 objective of community-based conservation is to actively involve and give some control to members of local communities in conservation efforts which may affect them, and incorporate improvement to the lives of local people while conserving areas through the creation of national parks or wildlife refuges.

Marine protected area Protected areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or large lakes

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.

World Commission on Protected Areas

The World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) is one of six commissions of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Harvey Locke

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 2017, Locke was appointed chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas Beyond the Aichi Targets Task Force, with the goal of ensuring the new global conservation targets set at the next Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020 are meaningful for achieving the conservation of nature and halting of biodiversity loss.

Conservation photography

Conservation photography is the active use of the photographic process and its products, within the parameters of photojournalism, to advocate for conservation outcomes.

IUCN protected area categories

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 Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Strict nature reserve

A strict nature reserve or wilderness area is the highest category of protected area recognised by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), a body which is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These category I areas are the most stringently protected natural landscapes.

Protected areas of Namibia

The protected areas of Namibia include its national parks and reserves. With the 2010 declaration of Dorob National Park, Namibia became the first and only country to have its entire coastline protected through a national parks network. Protected areas are subdivided into game reserves and/or nature reserves, such as special protected area, wilderness areas, natural areas, and development areas. There are also recreation reserves. Facilities in the national parks are operated by Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Over 19% of Namibia is protected, an area of some 130,000 square kilometres. However, the Ministry of Environment & Tourism auctions limited hunting rights within its protected areas. The Namibia Nature Foundation, an NGO, was established in 1987 to raise and administer funds for the conservation of wildlife and protected area management. Communal Wildlife Conservancies in Namibia help promote sustainable natural resource management by giving local communities rights to wildlife management and tourism.

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