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UK National Parks

"Please drive slow for the ponies"


Polly Smythe


The New Forest is a member of the exclusive family of the world’s most outstanding landscapes.

Globally, there are 6,555 protected areas covering one million square kilometres.

There are 15 National Parks in the UK – 10 in England which cover 10% of the land area, three in Wales (covering 20% of the land area) and two in Scotland (7.3%).

National Parks are large areas of land that are protected by law for the benefit of the nation. They were originally established by the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The Environment Act 1995 revised the original legislation and set out two statutory purposes for National Parks in England and Wales:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
  • Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of National Parks by the public.

When National Parks carry out these purposes they also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities within the National Parks.

Policies and decisions that could affect the National Parks have to take these purposes into consideration. If there is an irreconcilable conflict between the two purposes then the first one takes precedence. This is known as the Sandford Principle.

National Parks UK

National Parks UK brings together the 15 National Park Authorities of England, Scotland and Wales to raise the profile of the National Parks and to promote joint working.  Country associations for the English and Welsh National Parks represent the National Park Authorities to English and Welsh governments.

National Parks UK

National Parks England

National Parks England exists to support policy and practice by coordinating the views of the 10 English National Park Authorities (NPAs).

National Parks England

EUROPARC Federation

The EUROPARC Federation has around 430 member organisations in 35 European countries and one in the USA. Together they are responsible for the management of hundreds of protected areas across the continent and are a great pool of expertise for topics across the field of nature protection. EUROPARC provides them with a forum to share professional experience, collaborate on technical projects and progress common aims.

EUROPARC Federation

The Campaign for National Parks

The Campaign for National Parks (CNP) is the national charity that campaigns to protect and promote National Parks for the benefit and quiet enjoyment of all.

The Campaign for National Parks

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