The responsibility of national parks is given to countries within which the territory of the park falls. They have their own arrangements and policies. Overall, there are around 15 national parks in the UK, of which 10 are in England, 3 in Wales and 2 in Scotland. These parks are not national parks in the true sense if you analyse them according to the standards accepted by IUCN. However, they are regions of the outstanding landscape where residency and commercial activities are restricted. These national parks have 2 statutory (enacted by law) purposes:
- Conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage of the region.
- Promotion of understanding and recreational qualities of the national parks for the public.
The national parks in Scotland have two more statutory objectives:
- Promotion of sustainable utilisation of natural resources in the region.
- Promotion of the sustainable social and economic development of the region’s communities.
All of these national parks are members of National Parks, UK, which work for the promotion of the national parks and to smoothens the training and development process among members and staff of all the national parks.
MEDC case study: tourism in the United Kingdom’s national parks
The national parks of the UK include some of the world’s most spectacular natural landscapes, including mountains, forests and coasts. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act were passed in 1949. Accordingly, the laws were made to protect the United Kingdom’s areas of natural landscapes and to ensure that sustainable efforts are made to conserve and enjoy the landscape.
New Forest National Park
It is a historic royal hunting region with old forests containing trees that more than a thousand years old. It consists of 621 listed buildings and 214 scheduled monuments with a long and proud history dating back to William the Conqueror who used the park to pursue ‘beasts of the chase’. There are also plenty of cycling, horse riding, and walking routes to explore and some beautiful towns to visit including Beaulieu, Burley and Lymington.
Supporting different interests
The park is administered by the National Parks Authority (NPA), which strives to harmonise the conflicting priorities of several park users. For example:
- The security of the park’s environment, wildlife and natural traits – anything that can be wrecked by extreme tourism. This is not only the Authority’s work but is also effectively pressed for by conservation and wildlife organisations.
- Tourists who come to appreciate the park roads, parking, service, shops and eateries which are not necessarily going to be good for the farmland.
- Local businesses may want to promote more visitors.
- Farmers, who may be worried about harm to fences and cattle by walkers and their dogs.
- Residents may be worried about overcrowding, noise pollution, littering, and the depletion of footpaths.
If these different concerns are not carefully balanced, the outcome could be harmful to the environment, local people becoming upset or even antagonistic, and tourists being put off visiting the park.
Here are some of the propositions that have been adopted to help maintain the New Forest for future generations:
A scheme named ‘Our Past, Our Future’ is initiated that comprises of 21 projects and is based on 4 themes that will ensure that the forest is equipped with better facilities that enable it to prosper even in the modern day environmental and economic pressures.
These themes are:
- Recovering lost landscapes
- Improving Forest skills
- Discovering Forest heritage and encouraging a new generation
- Monitoring and evaluation.
Land Management Community
A self-governing service for the land management, a community, has been formed in and around the New Forest and Avon Valley.
It gives land administration advice and management strategies for grasslands, heathlands, woodlands, watercourses, ponds and other environmental features; advice for holdings managed by New Forest Commoners; Hedgerow management advice; advice about applying for land management related grants, eg Countryside Stewardship; Nitrate Vulnerable Zones advice; Advice on resource protection issues; Cross Compliance advice; assistance with form filling for Basic Payment Scheme and Rural Land Registry; Pond creation advice; matchmaking service for landowners and graziers; training, courses and events; a link to a wide range of organisations, initiatives and projects in the area; wood fuel – information for woodland owners and homeowners and support for community groups interested in wildlife conservation in their green spaces.
Management of Ground Nesting Birds
- The New Forest is an excellent place for all kinds of birds, many of which nest on the ground, particularly those that breed in the open heathland and mires.
- Wading birds comprise the curlew, redshank, snipe and lapwing, each of which is becoming rare in the south of England. Other specialities are the woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler. Again the New Forest is a crucial stronghold for these exotic birds; certainly, it is assigned as a Special Protection Area in part because of the breeding groups of these three species.
- The main threat is that these ground-nesting birds can be easily intimidated away from their nests in spring, leaving eggs or newborn exposed to the cold environment, or predators such as crows. Obviously, the trouble could be quite natural but people deviating from the main tracks, with or without dogs, are an additional danger.
- Flags around the best breeding territories that are put out each year.
- A dog walking code organised with dog owners as well as wildlife fans.
- Face to face communication with walkers, boosting awareness about the residence of the birds and the importance of following the Code.
- A developing area of work to encourage commercial dog walkers to see the benefits of following the Code.
- Improvements to recreational sites that are close to where people live and away from the delicate breeding areas.
- Education sessions with children and at puppy training classes to help them learn while they are young.
- They work with other institutions to protect and improve the variety of natural life.
In 2013 they signed a Biodiversity Action Plan to:
- aides in achieving the Government’s objective of curbing the overall damage of England’s biodiversity by 2020.
- guard healthy well functioning ecosystems.
- build unified ecological networks, with more and better places for nature for the benefit of wildlife and people.
- Since the approval of the Plan, they have tried to promote and execute a range of decisive responses and projects with other partners. These have revealed new and emerging themes such as natural capital and ecosystem services, and preference has been given to executing the action.
- Much has already been accomplished to improve actions against the goals of the plan, and they aim to continuously review progress and future actions in partnership with local stakeholders.
Advantages of Tourism
- Tourism gives employment and income for regional people.
- People prefer to stay in the area, which supports other basic services such as hospitals and schools.
- Services furnished for the use of tourists – e.g. leisure facilities – also serve local people.
- Work can be seasonal and earnings low.
- House costs in the region can increase due to a need for second homes.
- School leavers usually look for employment in larger towns due to low wages and high prices of the house. This prompts rural depopulation.
- Local shops often close and more profitable gift shops and tea rooms open. This leads to neglect of the need essential services of local people, e.g. butchers and grocers.
- Traffic produces pollution, and narrow roads become congested in the holiday season.
- Large numbers of hikers cause footpath depletion, which is costly to repair.
- Watersports cause depletion of lake shores, and there can be disputes between different lake users.