British National Parks for North Americans: What We Can Learn from a More Crowded Nation Proud of its Countryside
71 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2007 Last revised: 22 Mar 2012
England and Wales contain twelve national parks covering more than 10 percent of their landscape. Although these parks are managed as national resources, the vast majority of the land within their borders is privately owned. Although they are managed to preserve their natural qualities, they contain farms, towns and roughly 300,000 people. They contain nothing North Americans would consider wilderness. Although recognized as national assets and nationally funded, they are administered by independent boards made up largely of elected local representatives. Since passage of the National Parks and Access to Countryside Act of 1949, the British have managed to develop a national park system that defies almost every North American preconception of what a national park is supposed to be, but still manages to do almost everything North Americans require national parks to do. The British National Park model is no substitute for the magnificent public ownership, wilderness-based national parks of North America. Study of the history and management of British National Parks, however, provides us with important lessons for preserving public values in human-influenced, mixed ownership landscapes.
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