UK National Parks

Step 1: Read the key terms list below. Make sure that you understand and could give a definition to somebody else.

Step 2: Read the information in Section 1. Answer the exam questions here – 13.4 and 13.5 

There are 15 National Parks in the UK. Their locations can be seen in the map below.

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What is a National Park?

National parks are protected areas. They have countryside, wildlife and examples of cultural heritage. There are over 100,000 protected areas worldwide and UK National parks are just a small part of these. National Parks have unique and special qualities. These special qualities can be to do with the landscape, biodiversity, geology or archaeology and history.

Where are National Parks?

The UK has 15 National Parks. 3 in Wales, 2 in Scotland and 10 in England. Most major towns and cities are within a couple of hours drive to a National Park and most are accessible by motorway. 

Who looks after National Parks?

The ‘Campaign for National Parks’ is the only national charity dedicated to campaigning for National parks. In addition, each National Park is conserved by a National Park Authority which is made up of different members who make decisions about the conservation and protection of the National parks. National Parks also work with organisations such as The National Trust and the Forestry Commission to protect the natural and cultural features of the areas. 

Each National Park also employs staff. This can be up to 200 employees. Staff have a variety of roles such as working in fieldwork centres, visitor centres and undertaking conservation work. There are also volunteers who lead walks, hikes, dry stone walling and help to conserve wildlife.

Who would visit National Parks and why?

People visit National Parks for a variety of reasons. This can include for water sports such as canoeing, surfing, fishing and sailing.

There are also a number of activity centres and organisations such as Go Ape! who provide activities such as Tree Top adventures and rock climbing.

Orienteering and geocaching are popular activities for school groups and corporate team building events.

What are the aims of National Parks?

The 1949 National Parks and Countryside Act is a law passed by parliament which laid out the main aims of National Parks. National Parks have 2 main aims:

  • To conserve and enhance the natural beauty and culture of National Park areas.
  • To promote National Parks to the public and to encourage their safe use for leisure activities.

The ‘Sandford principle’ however states that should there be a conflict between looking after the natural environment and its use by people, then protecting the environment will be considered more important.