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. An international organization, the International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on
Protected Areas, has defined "National Park" as its Category II
type of protected areas.
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, established by the Mongolian government in
1778, the area surrounding Bogd Khan Uul Mountain located south of the
country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, is probably the oldest national
park, predating Yellowstone by nearly a century. The first area
to use "national park" in its creation legislation was the U.S.'s
Mackinac, in 1875. Australia's Royal National Park, established in
1879, was the world's third official national park. In 1895
ownership of Mackinac National
Park was transferred to the State of
Michigan as a state park and national park status was consequently
lost. As a result, Australia's Royal National
Park is by some
considerations the second oldest national park now in
existence. Canada established
Parks Canada in 1911, becoming
the world's first national service dedicated to protecting and
presenting natural and historical treasures.
The largest national park in the world meeting the IUCN definition is
the Northeast Greenland National Park, which was established in 1974.
According to the IUCN, 6,555 national parks worldwide met its criteria
in 2006. IUCN is still discussing the parameters of defining a
National parks are almost always open to visitors. Most national
parks provide outdoor recreation and camping opportunities[citation
needed] as well as classes designed to educate the public on the
importance of conservation and the natural wonders of the land in
which the national park is located.
3 Economic ramifications
4 See also
6 External links
Manuel Antonio National
Park in Costa Rica was listed by
Forbes as one
of the world's 12 most beautiful national parks.
A salt marsh in Schiermonnikoog National Park, Netherlands
In 1969, the IUCN declared a national park to be a relatively large
area with the following defining characteristics:
One or several ecosystems not materially altered by human exploitation
and occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphological sites
and habitats are of special scientific, educational, and recreational
interest or which contain a natural landscape of great beauty;
Highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent
or eliminate exploitation or occupation as soon as possible in the
whole area and to effectively enforce the respect of ecological,
geomorphological, or aesthetic features which have led to its
Visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for
inspirational, educative, cultural, and recreative purposes.
In 1971, these criteria were further expanded upon leading to more
clear and defined benchmarks to evaluate a national park. These
Minimum size of 1,000 hectares within zones in which protection of
nature takes precedence
Statutory legal protection
Budget and staff sufficient to provide sufficient effective protection
Prohibition of exploitation of natural resources (including the
development of dams) qualified by such activities as sport, hunting,
fishing, the need for management, facilities, etc.
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:
Swiss National Park, Switzerland: IUCN Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Everglades National Park, United States: IUCN Ib - Wilderness
Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe: IUCN III - National
Vitosha National Park, Bulgaria: IUCN IV - Habitat Management
New Forest National Park, United Kingdom: IUCN V - Protected
Etniko Ygrotopiko Parko Delta Evrou, Greece: IUCN VI - Managed
Resource Protected Area
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 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.
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with North
America and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may
improve this article, discuss the issue on the talk page, or create a
new article, as appropriate. (October 2014) (Learn how and when to
remove this template message)
The United States in 1872. When Yellowstone was established, Wyoming,
Montana and Idaho were territories, not states. For this reason, the
federal government had to assume responsibility for the land, hence
the creation of the national park.
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
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.
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, in California
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
Abraham Lincoln signed an Act of Congress on 1 July 1864,
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
Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming;
Yellowstone was the first national park in the world.
Los Cardones National
Park in Salta province, Argentina
Canyons at Hingol National Park, Pakistan.
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 countries, however, national protection and
nature reserves already existed, such as Drachenfels (Germany, 1822)
and a part of
Forest of Fontainebleau
Forest of Fontainebleau (France, 1861).
Yellowstone was part of a federally governed territory. With no state
government that could assume stewardship of the land so 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
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
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 disposess the Indians who were living in them.
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
64th United States Congress passed the National
Park Service Organic
Act, which President Woodrow Wilson signed into law on 25 August 1916.
Of the 417 sites managed by the National
Park Service of the United
States, only 59 carry the designation of National Park.
Further information: History of the National
Following the idea established in Yellowstone, there soon followed
parks in other nations. In Australia, the Royal National
established just south of Sydney on 26 April 1879, becoming the
world's second official national park (actually the 3rd: Mackinac
Park in Michigan was created in 1875 as a national park but
was later transferred to the state's authority in 1895, thus losing
its official "national park" status). Rocky Mountain National Park
became Canada's first national park in 1885. 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. New Zealand established Tongariro
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. Europe has some 359 national parks as of 2010.[citation
needed] 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
Park (since renamed Virunga National Park). In 1973, Mount
Kilimanjaro was classified as a National
Park and was opened to public
access in 1977. In 1926, the government of South Africa designated
Park as the nation's first national park, although it
was an expansion of the earlier Sabie Game Reserve established in 1898
Paul Kruger of the old South African Republic, after whom
the park was named. After World War II, national parks were
founded all over the world. The Vanoise National
Park in the Alps was
the first French national park, created in 1963 after public
mobilization against a touristic project.
The world's first national park service was established 19 May 1911,
in Canada. The Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act placed the
dominion parks under the administration of the Dominion
(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 km² of national park space. In 1989,
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
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
Lower Consolation Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Hadrian's Wall crosses Northumberland National
Park in England
Serra dos Órgãos National
Park in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. This
national park is one of the few natural habitats of species of
Park in Estonia was the first area to be designated a
national park in the former Soviet Union
Jiuzhaigou in China is a national park known for its many multi-level
waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks.
Park in Pakistan is known for being one of the highest
plains in the world with serene beauty and wildlife.
Park is one of the most visited national parks in the
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.
Main article: Ecotourism
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
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
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.
Federal lands – in the United States
Global Geoparks Network
List of national parks
List of national parks – by country
Lists of tourist attractions
National monument – in the United States
Park Travelers Club
National Parks Conservation Association
The National Parks: America's Best Idea
United Nations Environment Programme
World Database on Protected Areas
^ Europarc Federation (eds.) 2009, Living Parks, 100 Years of National
Parks in Europe, Oekom Verlag, München
^ The Act Archived 23 January 2017 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Report of the Superintendent of Yellowstone National
Park for the
Year 1872 Archived 3 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine., 43rd
Congress, 3rd Session, ex. doc. 35, quoting Department of Interior
letter of 10 May 1872, "The reservation so set apart is to be known as
the "Yellowstone National Park"."
^ Hardy, U. (9 April 2017). "The 10 Oldest National Parks In The
World". The CultureTrip. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
^ Bonnett, A. (2016). The Geography of Nostalgia: Global and Local
Perspectives on Modernity and Loss. Routledge. p. 68.
^ "National parks". Department of Communications, Information
Technology and the Arts. Australian Government. 31 July 2007.
Retrieved 2 November 2014.
^ a b Kim Allen Scott, 2011 "Robertson's Echo The Conservation Ethic
in the Establishment of Yellowstone and Royal National Parks"
Yellowstone Science 19:3
^ "Audley Bottom". Pinkava.asu.edu. Archived from the original on 2
November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
^ Rodney Harrison, 2012 "Heritage: Critical approaches" Routledge
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 November 2017.
Retrieved 25 May 2017.
^ "History of the National Parks". Association of National Park
Authorities. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 12
^ a b c d Gissibl, B., S. Höhler and P. Kupper, 2012, Civilizing
Nature, National Parks in Global Historical Perspective, Berghahn,
^ Jane Levere (29 August 2011). "The World's Most Beautiful National
Parks". Forbes. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011.
Retrieved 4 October 2011.
^ Gulez, Sumer (1992). A method of evaluating areas for national park
European Environment Agency
European Environment Agency
Protected areas in Europe – an
overview Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. In: EEA
Report No 5/2012 Kopenhagen: 2012 ISBN 978-92-9213-329-0
ISSN 1725-9177 pdf doi=10.2800/55955
^ Wordsworth, William (1835). A guide through the district of the
lakes in the north of England with a description of the scenery,
&c. for the use of tourists and residents (5th ed.). Kendal,
England: Hudson and Nicholson. p. 88.
^ Catlin, George (1841). Letters and Notes on the manners, customs,
and condition of the North American Indians: written during eight
years' travel amongst the wildest tribes of Indians in North America
in 1832, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39. 1. Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly,
London: Published by the author. pp. 261–262. Archived from the
original on 1 May 2016.
^ a b Shugart, Sharon (2004). "Hot Springs of Arkansas Through the
Years: A Chronology of Events" (PDF). National
Park Service. Archived
(PDF) from the original on 14 April 2008. Retrieved 30 March
^ Peters, Richard, ed. (1866). "Twenty-Second Congress, Session 1,
Chap. 70: An Act authorizing the governor of the territory of Arkansas
to lease the salt springs, in said territory, and for other purposes
(April 20, 1832)" (PDF). The Public Statutes at Large of the United
States of America from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to
3 March 1845, Treaties, and Proclamations of the United States of
America from December 1863, to December 1865. 4. Boston: Charles C.
Little and James Brown. p. 505. Archived from the original (PDF)
on 15 November 2011.
^ "Act Establishing Yellowstone National
Park (1872)". Our
Documents.gov. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9
^ Miller, Barbara Kiely (2008). John Muir. Gareth Stevens. p. 10.
^ John Muir. "Features of the Proposed Yosemite National Park"
Archived 2 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine. The Century Magazine,
Vol. XL. September 1890. No. 5
^ John Muir. "The Treasures of the Yosemite" Archived 2 November 2014
at the Wayback Machine. The Century Magazine, Vol. XL. August 1890.
^ Adam Wesley Dean. Natural Glory in the Midst of War: The
Establishment of Yosemite State Park[permanent dead link] In:
Abstract. Civil War History Volume 56, Number 4, December 2010 pp.
^ Sanger, George P., ed. (1866). "Thirty-Eighth Congress, Session 1,
Chap. 184: An Act authorizing a Grant to the State of California of
the "Yo-Semite Valley" and of the Land embracing the "Mariposa Big
Tree Grove" (June 30, 1864)" (PDF). 38th United States Congress,
Session 1, 1864. In: The Statutes at Large, Treaties, and
Proclamations of the United States of America from December 1863, to
December 1865. 13. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 325.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 November 2011.
^ Mangan, Elizabeth U. Yellowstone, the First National
Mapping the National Parks Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback
Machine.. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.
^ Kimberly A. Jones, Simon R. Kelly, Sarah Kennel, Helga
Kessler-Aurisch, In the forest of Fontainebleau: painters and
photographers from Corot to Monet, National Gallery of Art, 2008, p.23
^ "Famous Quotes Concerning the National Parks: Wallace Stegner,
1983". Discover History. National
Park Service. 16 January 2003.
Archived from the original on 8 May 2011. Retrieved 24 October
^ Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the
National Parks. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1999 : Review Archived 18 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine. by
Colin Fisher, H-Environment, August 2000
^ "1879: Australia's first national park created". National Museum of
Australia. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016. Retrieved 9
^ "Mackinac Island". Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January
^ "Kilimanjaro: The National Park". Private Kilimanjaro: About
Kilimanjaro. Private Expeditions, Ltd. 2011. Archived from the
original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
^ Irish, Paul (13 May 2011). "
Parks Canada celebrates a century of
discovery". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011.
Retrieved 18 May 2011.
Parks Canada History". Parks Canada. 2 February 2009. Archived from
the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
^ "Parks Canada". Parks Canada. Archived from the original on 23 March
2009. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
^ Daniel C. Taylor, Carl E. Taylor, Jesse O. Taylor, Empowerment on an
Unstable Planet New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012,
^ McMillan, A.J.S.; Horobin, J.F. (1995), Christmas Cacti : The
Schlumbergera and its hybrids (p/b ed.), Sherbourne, Dorset:
David Hunt, ISBN 978-0-9517234-6-3
^ a b Eagles, Paul F.J. "Trends in
Park Tourism: Economics, Finance
and Management". Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. In:
Journal of Sustainable
Tourism Volume 10, Issue 2, 2002, p. 134.
^ Eagles, Paul F.J. "Trends in
Park Tourism: Economics, Finance and
Management". Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. In: Journal
Tourism Volume 10, Issue 2, 2002, p. 133.
^ a b U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Handbook of occupational
groups and families. Washington, D.C. January 2008. Page 19. OPM.gov
Archived 3 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 2 November
^ R Meadows ; D L Soden In: National
Park Ranger Attitudes and
Perceptions Regarding Law Enforcement Issues. Archived 4 March 2016 at
the Wayback Machine. Abstract. Justice Professional Volume:3 Issue:1
(Spring 1988) Pages:70-93
Eagles, Paul F. J; McCool, Stephen F. (2002).
Tourism in National
Parks and Protected Areas: Planning and Management. CABI.
ISBN 0851997597. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
Sellars, Richard West (2009). Preserving Nature in the National Parks:
A History. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300154143. CS1
maint: Uses authors parameter (link) 404 pages.
Sheail, John (2010) Nature's Spectacle - The World's First National
Parks and Protected Places Earthscan, London, Washington.
Find more aboutat's sister projects
Definitions from Wiktionary
Media from Wikimedia Commons
News from Wikinews
Quotations from Wikiquote
Texts from Wikisource
Textbooks from Wikibooks
Travel guide from Wikivoyage
Learning resources from Wikiversity
Data from Wikidata
Park Service FAQs
Protected Planet – World Database of Protected Areas
UNESCO — Man and the Biosphere Programme (Biosphere Reserves)
World Heritage Sites
A-Z of Areas of Biodiversity Importance: National Parks
EUROPARC Federation — Europe's protected areas
National Parks Worldwide
National parks, landscape parks and protected areas in the world
Earth sciences portal
Sustainable development portal