The National Parks (Welsh: Parciau Cenedlaethol, Scottish Gaelic: Pàircan Nàiseanta) of the United Kingdom are to be found primarily in England and Wales; two recent additions exist in Scotland. There are no National Parks in Northern Ireland.
Slightly less strict designations also exist: the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the National Scenic Area in Scotland.
National parks are a devolved matter with each of the countries of the United Kingdom having its own policies and arrangements. Counted together, the United Kingdom has fifteen national parks with ten in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland. These parks are not truly national parks according to the internationally accepted standard of the IUCN but they are areas of outstanding landscape where habitation and commercial activities are restricted.
All fifteen national parks share two statutory purposes:
To conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area, and
To promote understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the national park by the public.
The Scottish national parks have two further statutory purposes:
To promote sustainable use of the natural resources of the area, and
To promote sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities.
All of the UK’s national parks are members of National Parks UK, which works to promote the UK national parks family and to facilitate training and development between staff and members of all parks.
Each park is operated by its own National Park Authority, with two “statutory purposes”:
to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area, and
to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the park’s special qualities by the public.
Despite the name, National Parks in the UK are quite different from those in many other countries, where National Parks are owned and managed by the government as a protected community resource, and permanent human communities are not a part of the landscape. In the UK, National Parks can include substantial towns and villages, and land uses such as farming and forestry which are often integral parts of the landscape. Land within a National Park remains largely in private ownership, and so land access is usually subject to the same restrictions as elsewhere in the country.
National Parks in the UK have no admission charges, and there may only be a road sign to indicate that you are entering a park.
The United Kingdom has 15 national parks; of these, 10 are in England, three in Wales, and two in Scotland:
|Loch Lomond and The Trossachs||Scotland|
|North York Moors||England|
National Scenic Areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the United Kingdom are 41 defined areas in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, designated originally by the Countryside Agency, on behalf of the government. The equivalent in Scotland is the National Scenic Area. Natural England was set up in 2006 to succeed the Countryside Agency in England, and is a government body responsible for the protection and improvement of the natural environment in England.
National Scenic Area (NSA) is a national landscape designation applied in Scotland. There are 40 designated NSAs. They are considered of national importance based on their outstanding scenic landscapes. National Scenic area is equivalent to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation which is used in the other countries of the UK. Since 2003, the superior National Park designation has been introduced. There are 2 National Parks in Scotland.
|Antrim Coast||Northern Ireland|
|Antrim Glens**||Northern Ireland|
|Arnside and Silverdale||England|
|Assynt – Coigach||Scotland|
|Causeway Coast||Northern Ireland|
|East Stewartry Coast||Scotland|
|Forest of Bowland||England|
|Howardian Hills (see Ashdown Forest)||England|
|Isle of Wight||England|
|Isle of Mull||Scotland|
|Isles of Scilly||England|
|Kyle of Tongue||Scotland|
|Kyles of Bute||Scotland|
|Lagan Valley||Northern Ireland|
|Loch na Keal||Scotland|
|Lynn of Lorn||Scotland|
|North Devon (see Devon)||England|
|North Norfolk Coast||England|
|North Wessex Downs||England|
|Ring of Gullion||Northern Ireland|
|South Devon (see Devon)||England|
|South Uist Machair||Scotland|
|Strangford Lough||Northern Ireland|
|West Wiltshire Downs||England|
*In the United Kingdom, the word harbor (American English) is spelled harbour.
**In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the term glen is used in place of the word valley and is more specific.