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Brief History Of National Parks


The Evolution That Was


       The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) was established in 1948 in Fontainebleau, France. Its main purpose is to promote planned use and active conservation in areas where there are vital or rare plants and wildlife and scenic, scientific, or cultural features.

       In 1958 this organization recommended that the United Nations compile a world list of national parks and reserves. The same year it established the International Commission on National Parks. In 1962 the first World Conference on National Parks was held in Seattle, Wash., attended by delegates from some 70 nations. A major concern was the increasing pace at which rare animal species were being destroyed by people.

       In 1969 the tenth General Assembly of the IUCN met in New Delhi, India, to consider the importance given by the United Nations to the national park concept. The assembly defined a national park as follows: "A national park is a relatively large area (1) where one or several ecosystems are not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphologic sites and habitats are of special scientific, educational and recreational interest or which contains a natural landscape of great beauty; and (2) where the highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or eliminate as soon as possible exploitation or occupation in the whole area and to enforce effectively the respect of ecological, geomorphologic or aesthetic features which have led to its establishment; and (3) where visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for inspirational, educational, cultural and recreational purposes."

       In 1972 more than 90 countries were represented at the second World Conference on National Parks. It was held at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks as part of the Yellowstone centennial celebration. In 1982 a third conference was held in Bali, Indonesia.

       Member states of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unanimously adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972. Known as the World Heritage Convention, the agreement provides technical and financial assistance to member states to further their attempts to promote conservation. More than 70 countries now adhere to the convention. Over 130 World Heritage Sites have been named. In Canada these include the Burgess Shale Fossil Site in Yoho National Park, Anthony Island Provincial Park, and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. The sites in the United States include Independence Hall, Mesa Verde National Park, and Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Wrangell-St. Elias National Monument in Alaska and Canada's Kluane National Park constitute an international site.

       Even until today, the world over is still trying to find land for establishment of national parks. This marks something extraordinary and somewhat contrary to previous decade when poaching was imminent and efforts to preserve wildlife was rather half-hearted. A good sign indeed that the world of today realises the significance of saving today's endangered wildlife. It also answers much of the animals' desperate cries.

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