European national parks How our neighbours do it

The first ever national park in the world was founded in 1872. It will soon be nearly 150 years since people realized for the first time that knowledge and technology enables them to conquer and "culturize" each corner of the Earth. It is ironic that it was the beauty of the then pristine American wilderness that made people realize that they will have pay a heavy price for raw materials, food and other resources; a cost that cannot be expressed in monetary terms. The nature conservation in Yellowstone and other national parks received preferential treatment from prospectors, trappers and industrialists.

In the early 20th century, the idea of national parks began to spread to Europe. It was clear from the beginning that in Europe, a densely populated continent for a long time, intact nature could only be found in very remote areas. The first European national parks were created in the high mountains and in the far North. The economic development and the growth of wealth in the late 20th century resulted in an increased strain on European nature. The forests in the mountains were drying out due to pollution or had been converted into plantations, the annual movement of salmon in the Elbe and Rhine ended, orchid meadows were drained, ploughed and turned into agricultural fields. It was not only the wilderness that started to disappear but also the natural environment as it was gradually replaced by an artificial one. Many European countries have therefore decided to save the last remaining parts of the preserved nature and declared national parks.  

States declare national parks according to their own state legislature, and therefore the European national parks not only differ in terms of size and different ecosystems which they protect, but they also differ in the ways of governance of the territory and the human activities that are allowed in the territory.

The aim of the "European National Parks or how our neighbours do it" project is to familiarize in a brief form the protection of nature as it is applied in various national parks. The websites devoted to the individual national parks provide basic information on the area, zoning, tourism and research activities that take place in the NP. The aim is not to provide exhausting information, but rather a brief summary and to emphasise further information resources. It is important that the stated information was obtained directly from the employees of the national parks during study trips and stays.

The project, which was initially supported by a scholarship granted by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation via the Europarc Federation, is conceived as unlimited in terms of time and open to other contributors.  


NP Gesäuse
NP Gorce
NP Bialowieza
Europarc federation official website
Europarc federation official website - CZ

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