What are National Parks? The UK’s 15 National Parks are beautiful expanses of relatively wild countryside, created and protected under a Government Act for all to enjoy. The first National Park – the Peak District – was designated in 1951. The newest was the South Downs in 2011. Today, National Parks are widely recognised as the most iconic areas of our countryside. They are truly national treasures. What is the Yorkshire Dales National Park? The Yorkshire Dales National Park was designated in 1954. This was in recognition of its extraordinary natural beauty, the diversity of its wildlife habitats, its rich cultural heritage and its fantastic opportunities for outdoor recreation. Unlike the National Parks in the United States, the Yorkshire Dales is not a wilderness area. It is a living, working environment, home to 24,000 people. Covering 2,179 square kilometres (841 square miles) the Yorkshire Dales National Park straddles the central Pennines in North Yorkshire and Cumbria and also includes a small part of Lancashire. Purposes and duties The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was created to help to care for this very special place, its landscape, wildlife, culture and heritage, and to help people understand and enjoy it. In carrying out these purposes we also have a duty to try to do so in a way that supports the economic and social well-being of our local communities. We work alongside many others to make sure the Yorkshire Dales National Park has the sustainable future intended by all those who fought for its conservation last century. Who owns National Parks? Over 95% of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is in private ownership. So, local people who farm the land; own the buildings; and run the businesses are at the heart of looking after this place. The National Park Authority owns less than 0.4 per cent of the land. This includes car parks, woodland and small nature reserves.