What is a National Park?

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In the UK there are 15 members in the national park family, which 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.

Here are just a few things that make national parks special places:

National parks are protected areas

Looking after wildlife and cultural heritage

Meet the people in the parks

Where are the national parks in the UK?

There are 15 members in the UK national park family:

  • 10 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.
  • 2 in Scotland - Cairngorms and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs.
  • 3 in Wales – the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast, and Snowdonia.

See all 15 on our National Park maps

Farmers are an important group of landowners and agriculture is one of the main landuses in National Parks

Who owns the national parks land?

A large amount of land within the national parks is owned by private landowners. Farmers and organisations like the National Trust are some of the landowners, 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 in all national parks 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

See how people's protests and campaigns helped create our National Parks