Geographia Polonica (1977) vol. 34

Protection and development in the national parks of England and Wales: the role of the physical environment

I. G. Simmons

Geographia Polonica (1977) vol. 34, pp. 279-292 | Full text

Most of the industrial nations of the world, together with a large number ofless-developed countries, have designated parts of their land and water resourcesas National Parks. In any hierarchy of regions accorded a special status,these areas are usually the highest element and they thus reflect the high valueput on them by the people of the nation in wich they are found. Most peoplewant firstly to protect such areas against rapid change due to economic expansion:to control the building of industrial establishments or the destruction offorests. At the same time, people wish to visit these areas and pursue a widevariety of activities in them: to walk, camp and have picnics, to climb mountains,to observe flora and fauna, and increasingly to drive through the parks intheir cars with short roadside stops en route.In all National Parks, however, these cultural demands rarely take placein an environment which is capable of manipulation to meet all of man's wishessince the very nature of the terrain's values for Park purposes are often theresult of a relatively vigorous physical environment. In such areas, as elsewhere,there is, and has been, a constant interplay between the influences of topography,climate, and vegetation, and the response of particular peoples bothto the opportunities offered and the constraints exerted by the environment. Soeach nation responds in its own way and this paper attempts to describe thesituation in England and Wales, looking first at the role of physical geographyin the choice of areas to designate as National Parks, and then at the ways inwhich it affects the management of them.1 First a brief description of the parksand their history will be attempted.

I. G. Simmons, University of Durham