The aims and purposes of National Parks

The aims and purposes of National Parks are laid out by law. The 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, was a law made by parliament that set out what our National Parks would be like.

There are slightly different aims and purposes for the National Parks in Scotland and for the Broads, compared to National Parks in England and Wales. When the aims and purposes conflict with each other, then the Sandford Principle should be used to give more weight to conservation of the environment.

England and Wales

Heather blaze Grain Sike Lordenshaws

The Environment Act 1995 revised the original legislation and set out two statutory purposes for National Parks in England and Wales:

  1. Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
  2. 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 the duty to:

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

The Broads

Herringfleet Mill Sunset

The Broads were designated under separate legislation in 1988, The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Act.

As well as having the same duty and purposes as the National Parks in England and Wales, the Broads have an additional purpose:

  • To protect the interests of navigation

Scotland

Aerial view of the Trossachs © LLTNPA

Between 1951 and 2000 National Parks only existed in England and Wales. However the National Parks (Scotland) Act led to the designation of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs and Cairngorms National Park. The Scottish National Parks have four aims:

  1. To conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
  2. To promote sustainable use of the natural resources of the area.
  3. To promote understanding and enjoyment (including enjoyment in the form of recreation) of the special qualities of the area by the public.
  4. To promote sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities.

Northern Ireland

The Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland

Currently there are no National Parks in Northern Ireland , but large areas of beautiful countryside are protected as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

There is currently a review to look at establishing a National Park in Northern Ireland, with the Mountains of Mourne as a possible area.

Find out more about Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Learning about