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About national parks

What is a national park?

In the UK there are 15 members in the UK national park family and they are protected areas because of their beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. People live and work in the national parks and the farms, villages and towns are protected along with the landscape and wildlife. National parks welcome visitors and provide opportunities for everyone to experience, enjoy and learn about their special qualities.

Where are the national parks in the UK?

  • Ten in England - The Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, the Lake District, the New Forest, Northumberland, the North York Moors, the Peak District, the South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales.

  • Two in Scotland - Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

  • Three in Wales – the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia.

Who owns the national parks land?

A large amount of land within the national parks is owned by private landowners - such as farmers and organisations like the National Trust -  along with the thousands of people who live in the villages and towns. National park authorities sometimes own bits of land but they work with all landowners to protect the landscape.

When were the national parks designated?

1951 - Peak District, Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor

1952 - Pembrokeshire Coast and North York Moors

1954 - Yorkshire Dales and Exmoor

1956 - Northumberland

1957 - Brecon Beacons

1989 - The Broads given equivalent status to a national park

2002 - Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

2003 - Cairngorms

2005 - New Forest

2010 - South Downs

Who looks after national parks?

National parks are large areas of land that contain towns and villages, which means that lots of people and organisations help to look after them including them national park authorities and their volunteers.

The value of having national parks

In May 2013, National Parks England (formerly the English National Park Authorities Association) commissioned a report to present the most recent economic and socio-economic data relating to the national parks. It also aimed to assess the contribution that national parks make to economic prosperity and well-being and to identify future opportunities for national park authorities to further support sustainable rural economies in line with the Government's Vision for the English National Parks and The Broads.

This report, along with an infographic summary can be downloaded using the following links:

In July 2013, Richard Benyon MP, the Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, published a letter highlighting the value of national parks and why we should all make the most of them and take advantage of the many opportunities that are available in national parks.