Global Role of National Parks For the World of Tomorrow
Berkeley, California May 23, 1974
TBefore commencing this lecture I would like to express my gratitude
and great pleasure at having been invited to this campus which,
through its scientists in so many ways, is inspiring not only to
those who work in ecology and conservation but also in numerous
other disciplines. On several previous occasions I have had the
privilege of visiting this campus. Every time such a visit is like
a tremendous injection of intellectual stimulation. Likewise, the
constant flow of impressive books and papers from Berkeley, which
I have had the benefit of receiving regularly in Europe and Africa
for more than twenty years, also generates stimulating ideas at
the receiving end. For all this I thank you.
The preservation of natural areas - habitats, biomes and ecosystems
- is the best and most direct way for the conservation of biocommunities
and endangered species of plants and animals. Such preservation
also provides man with a key to environmental understanding, which
is of fundamental importance for his own survival.
What is a "natural area"? Remaining virgin areas of the
world are at the present time so few that we must enlarge the concept
of natural areas to include regions in which the impact of man is
minimal. The criteria for definitions of natural areas have to be
ecological but flexible, due to the great variation of habitats,
biomes, and ecosystems as well as their sensitivity to human disturbance
and influence. Habitat selectivity of plants and animals is also
very diverse, which necessitates a flexible approach in defining
In the overcrowded world of today nature cannot any longer defend
itself by remoteness or inaccessibility. Therefore the establishment
of national parks and equivalent nature reserves is the only means
to give maximum protection to what remains of representative natural
habitats, biomes and ecosystems as well as rare and threatened species.
However, this is not enough. So many significant habitats and ecosystems
have disappeared or been greatly modified through human disturbance
that it is necessary to undertake restoration programmes in order
to regain for man's benefit what he unwisely has destroyed.
The First 100 Years
In 1972 the world celebrated the centenary of the establishment
of the first national park, the Yellowstone National Park. Very
appropriately this celebration took place in Yellowstone National
Park, and in its next-door neighbour the Grand Teton National Park,
through the generosity of the United States acting as host for the
Second World Conference on National Parks. Since that remarkable
day one hundred and two years ago when the United States established
the world's first national park this great nation has continuously
shown a global leadership in the national park movement and in conservation
The pioneering U.S. spirit of 1872 is reflected by the fact that
the establishment of Yellowstone National Park met basic conditions
for a national park which became internationally defined and adopted
97 years later by the General Assembly of the International Union
for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), meeting
in New Delhi in November-December, 1969.
The first 100 years of national parks history is so well documented
by the numerous publications published during the centenary year
1972 and by the Second World Conference on National Parks that it
does not need to be repeated or summarized for you. However, it
must be said that it was in quite another world than ours that the
first national park became established. The past 100 years of national
park history have seen an unprecedented accelerated development
due to demographic, economic and social growth. A hundred years
ago, when Yellowstone National Park was created, was an idyllic
time without serious pressures on most of the world's major biomes.
The vision of those who were inspired by the magnificence of Yellowstone
led to one of the greatest contributions to civilization, namely
the concept of national parks for the benefit of mankind for all
What could not be foreseen at that time was the tremendous habitat
deterioration which has characterized the last fifty years of human
existence. But the human aspirations for which the conservation-minded
people of 1872 were fighting are still basically the same. Their
action was prompted by aesthetic impressions of nature's grandiosity,
and by spiritual concern for contemporary and future generations
of mankind which should be given opportunities to share their impressions.
Today, reasons of quite another dimension must be added to why national
parks must be established. As human beings we are in biological
and ecological need of diverse and vast networks of national parks.
We need them for our mental and physical health and wellbeing as
a counterbalance to urban life and social stress. We need them as
sample areas for comparisons with regions which have been or are
being modified by man. We need them as living laboratories for studies
of biological productivity, evolution, population dynamics and so
on. In fact, the most significant results of biological field studies
have emerged from national parks or equivalent reserves or from
intact biocommunities. We need them as gene banks for wild plants
and animals. We need them for rehabilitation of destroyed areas.
We need them for educational and historic purposes. It is indeed
difficult to understand why it should be more important for humanity
to preserve at immense costs dead monuments of the past than living
treasures of bygone days - plants, animals and intact biocommunities.
It is often claimed that historic cultural sites are more valuable
to preserve than are natural regions, because the former reflect
how man lived in the past. True, but living biocommunities (even
if they are in perpetual evolution) in environments characterized
by geological history were the homes of our ancestors for more than
two million years before any buildings existed. Future generations
would surely not forgive us the destruction of sites like the Grand
Canyon, the Virunga National Park in Africa, the Kanha National
Park in Asia, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Haleakala
National Park in Hawaii, the Coto Donana National Park in Europe,
or the Galapagos Islands in South America just to give some examples
from each continent. In the same way, future generations will certainly
strongly condemn the far-reaching destruction which, during the
last decades, has occurred in existing national parks in a number
Having said that, it is understood that the first 100 years of
national parks history have not been entirely rosy. It is chiefly
in the last 30 years that many national parks have been violated
by governmental exploitation.
Definition and Principles
At the 10th General Assembly of IUCN in New Delhi 1969 the following
resolution on National Park definition was unanimously adopted:
Considering the importance given by the United Nations to the national
park concept, as a sensible use of natural resources, and considering
the increasing use which has been made during these last few years
in some countries of the term "national park" to designate
areas with increasingly different status and objectives.
The 10th General Assembly of IUCN meeting in New Delhi in November
1969 recommends that all governments agree to reserve the term "National
Park" to areas answering the following characteristics and
to ensure that their local authorities and private organizations
wishing to set aside nature reserves do the same:
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, geomorphological sites
and habitats are of special scientific, educative and recreative
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 to eliminate as soon as possible exploitation
or occupation in the whole area and to enforce effectively the respect
of ecological, geomorphological or aesthetic features which have
led to its establishment, and (3) where visitors are allowed to
enter, under special conditions, for inspirational, educative, cultural
and recreative purposes.
Governments are accordingly requested not to designate as national
a scientific reserve which can be entered only by special permission
(strict nature reserve),
a natural reserve managed by a private institution or a lower authority
without some type of recognition and control by the highest competent
authority of the country,
a "special reserve" as defined in the African Convention
of 1968 (fauna or flora reserve, game reserve, bird sanctuary, geological
or forest reserve, etc.),
an inhabited and exploited area where landscape planning and measures
taken for the development of tourism have led to the setting up
of "recreation areas" where industrialization and urbanization
are controlled and where public outdoor recreation takes priority
over the conservation of ecosystems (parc naturel régional,
nature park, Naturpark, etc). Areas of this description which may
have been established as "National Parks" should be redesignated
in due course.
This resolution was endorsed by the Second World Confer-ence on
National Parks in 1972.
Trends in National Parks
The important role of national parks and equivalent reserves in
the fields of international conservation, research, education and
recreation, as well as in national economy and development, is becoming
increasingly recognized in many countries on all continents and
also by international organizations not directly involved in conservation
activities. So far, however, national parks have been primarily
regarded as national assets. The traditional way of selecting areas
as national parks has mainly been based on special features of a
country such as spectacular landscape scenery, or rare and interesting
geological sites, vegetation and/or fauna. In fact, many national
parks have been chosen to preserve natural curiosities. Also, areas
where historical events have taken place have in certain countries
been set aside as national parks. It is not wrong to use such criteria
as national values for selection of national parks, but they emphasize
single features rather than the natural scene as a whole (habitats,
biomes, ecosystems) and such a limited approach may in the long
run be dangerous because it might lead to unexpected surprises and
the disappearance of what one wanted to preserve.
The point in our days is that we cannot afford any longer to base
our action in relation to nature on emotional romanticism. We have
to face ecological realities and they are, due to ourselves, very
One may ask whether present and future conflicts of land use due
to population and economic pressures or political aspirations can
be reconciled with the idea of having large areas set aside for
national parks. The latter are often regarded as being unproductive.
This is a wrong view. It is indeed as vital to preserve habitats
and ecosystems as it is to set aside areas for other human needs.
This is just the essence of ecological planning on a global scale.
Some people foresee a dim future for national parks in countries
which are at present suffering from heavy overexploitation of natural
resources due to ecological ignorance and overpopulation. These
people do not seem to have learned from past and present mistakes.
These mistakes will certainly be an important background when it
comes to sound ecological planning and the formulation of long-term
land use objectives.
The Threats to National Parks
National parks give protection but they also must be protected.
There are few countries with national parks where the latter have
not been threatened by being over-run, reduced, altered, or even
destroyed by external pressures, often in the form of exploitation
by governments. But there are also other dangers. Ironically, the
popularity of national parks is in many areas a major menace. Over-use
by visitors causes damage and serious problems to many national
parks. The pristine values of an area can hardly be preserved when
confronted with mass recreation of an increasing number of people.
On the other hand, modern societies with increased leisure time
and increased standards of living need such areas for their mental
Several national parks in the United States and South Africa have
been forced to limit the number of visitors visting their areas
at any one time during peak periods. Other national park systems
are discussing whether they have to reduce the number of visiting
tourists by charging such high prices that they can stem the flow
of visitors and in this way maintain the environmental quality.
A more sympathetic and perhaps also more rational method would be
to increase the number of national parks so they can absorb at the
same time the number of visitors wanting to go to these areas. The
dispersal of tourists to many parts of a country is an advantage
for the country concerned, because it spreads the benefits to local
populations involved in the infrastructure of the tourist industry.
This is particularly so in developing countries, for instance in
East Africa where the tourist industry is based on national parks
and their animals.
However, the problem is general. Whatever country or national park
one is concerned with, it would certainly be a disastrous policy
to accept an unlimited development in national parks and equivalent
reserves in order to meet the demands of all people. The primary
purpose of any national park must be to preserve and not to be developed
to take care of a mass of visitors who would destroy the very values
for which the national parks were created.
The proposals to keep the number of visitors within a national
park to such proportions that it does not hamper its wilderness
quality has been challenged by those who advocate that this approach
is undemocratic and that "national parks are for people"
and not just for a few who appreciate virgin or untouched nature.
I believe that these "few" in reality are not so few.
Perhaps they will soon become the majority. This is a sound evolution
and should be encouraged. For those who want outdoor recreation
without "natural quality" there are always plenty of areas
where they can satisfy their needs. Moreover, just the fact that
"national parks are for people" implies that they should
be so for all time and not only for the present generation. If we
destroy or mismanage what we have in custody today, we are irresponsible
towards coming generations.
Therefore, I repeat that the number of national parks and equivalent
reserves needs to be increased in relation to the public demand
and their carrying capacity to receive visitors without being damaged.
Obviously this kind of land use must be compatible at national level
with other kinds of land use necessary for the country. This is
a part of ecological planning.
Many threats to national parks stem from man-made actions outside
such reserves. For example, a considerable number of the existing
African national parks and equivalent reserves are subjected to
increasingly heavy pressure from the surrounding human population,
either through demands for land for settling, grazing rights or
agriculture, and/or development schemes, which are adverse to the
long-term interests and benefits represented by the conservation
areas. Fires, overgrazing by livestock, poaching on an industrial
scale, irrigation, drainage, air, water and soil pollution, deforestation
of nearby areas which alters the water regime, and other man-made
factors, cause environmental changes in many national parks even
when the sources of these habitat modifications are located outside
the reserves. In particular, watercourses flowing through national
parks and their lakes and swamps may be polluted or silted or dried
up because of human activities occurring hundreds of miles away.
Irrigation schemes upstream in rivers which flow through national
parks and nature reserves have upset the ecology of the protected
areas, resulting in adverse chain reactions affecting the vegetation
and the fauna.
National Parks as a Land Use
In no other country has it so overwhelmingly been demonstrated
that national parks serve a useful function for the society at large
and constitute a meaningful and constructive kind of land use as
in the United States. Yet, only seven national parks in the United
States are completely in public ownership. Privately owned "inholdings"
exist in all other U.S. national parks and in many national monuments
(Cahn, 1968). In addition, there are grazing rights for livestock
in U.S. wilderness areas. These facts shock a foreign observer like
myself, because I have so often in my work for national parks in
various countries of the world referred to the United States as
a leadership example. However, it is possible that unless the Federal
Government had not accepted these private pockets in several national
parks as a transitional stage until final purchase of the total
area, these national parks might not have existed at all. It is
obviously better to build up a preserved area piecewise by acquiring
what is progressively available than to wait almost indefinitely
to do so until the whole area can be purchased. In Africa and Asia,
governments often object to proposals of setting aside national
parks because they do not have the means to develop them in the
form of housing and roads for caretaking. We need to advocate that
it is better to demarcate and gazette national parks without delay
even if it will take years before any infrastructure will materialize.
In a 1969 Gallup poll in the United States, three of every four
people interviewed favoured setting aside more public land for conservation
purposes such as national parks, wildlife refuges, bird sanctuaries,
and similar nature reserves. It is understandable why this pronounced
enthusiasm for more national parks exists in a country like the
United States, which pioneered conservation by setting aside nature
reserves and which today has an impressive network of national parks,
state parks, and other reserves visited annually by millions. Canada
has followed the example of its southern neighbour. Hence North
America is relatively well equipped with national parks and nature
In Africa today there are more national parks and nature reserves
than during the colonial time. The new African Convention for Conservation
of Nature and Natural Resources, signed in 1968 by the African heads
of state and now in force, deals specifically with national parks,
nature reserves, and other conservation areas. An article of the
Convention stipulates that the contracting states shall maintain
and extend, where appropriate, within their territory and, where
applicable, in their territorial waters, the conservation areas
existing at the time of the entry into force of the present convention,
and, preferably within the framework of land use planning programmes,
shall assess the necessity of establishing additional conservation
areas in order to:
protect those ecosystems that are most representative of, and particularly
those that are in any respect peculiar to, their territories;
ensure conservation of all species and more particularly of those
listed or to be listed in the Annex of this Convention. (At present
more than 350 species of animals and plants are listed.)
The number of national parks in Europe, Asia, and Australia is
also increasing. However, many more such reserves are needed, for
many reasons. Two reasons that are particularly important, and therefore
emphasized by the African Convention are: protection of representative
ecosystems, and protection of endangered species of plants and animals.
This holds true for the whole world and includes terrestrial as
well as marine biomes.
National parks and nature reserves provide a number of advantages
to human society, in addition to recreational values already discussed.
Tourism is a kind of recreation, but as an international phenomenon
it brings foreign money into countries. It can therefore be developed
into a major source of income based on the existence of national
parks. This is the case in the countries of East Africa. In Kenya,
tourism is the most important source of national revenue, competing
with the value of the coffee export, and ranks high in that regard
in Uganda and Tanzania. The stream of tourists visiting these countries
comes primarily to see the national parks and nature reserves. Primarily
it is the animals and the scenic landscape features that attract
visitors and have the strongest appeal for foreign tourists. Hence
the recreational and economic values of national parks and their
wildlife can contribute substantially to the economy of a country.
The physical and mental health of people is an important economic
factor in any country, even though it cannot be expressed in figures.
The recreational value of natural oases like national parks and
nature reserves for maintaining the physical and mental welfare
of human beings cannot be overestimated in a world of artificiality,
urbanization, and mechanization.
It is obvious from the experience of the last fifteen years that
national parks will play an increasingly important role in the social
and economic development process of the world because of their scientific,
educational and recreational functions. The practical aspects in
the form of the immense importance a global network of national
parks will have in providing ecological (bioeconomic) guidelines
for the future use of lands and waters of the world will without
doubt be increasingly realized as governments become aware of environmental
Much of the economic value of national parks will be in the form
of a non-consumptive use such as research, education, recreation
and protection of gene pools. Surplus animals will disperse to surrounding
areas, if the latter are suitable, where they can be cropped for
protein and hides. Protection will be given to migratory birds along
their flyways, and in due time this will also yield protein and
recreational opportunities outside the preserved areas. Protection
of coral reefs will indirectly favour lagoon and off-shore fishing,
because the coral reef biome functions as a spawning ground, as
a nursery of larvae, and as habitats for juvenile stages of numerous
marine species of fish which as adults live pelagically in the open
sea. These are just some examples of what national parks yield indirectly.
The hitherto unwise and acceleratingly destructive exploitation
of renewable natural resources highlights the necessity of ecological
land-use surveys as a basis for the long-term planning of these
resources of each nation or region. In such a scheme national parks
have to be considered as a form of ecologically, economically and
socially sound land use. One of many useful results coming from
such surveys is a firm background of ecological knowledge of the
interactions between habitats and biomes inside and outside national
parks. Such a knowledge will be tremendously helpful for land planners
not only when delineating national park boundaries but also for
land-use planning in general. Moreover, the introduction of scientifically-based
conservation and management principles having an ecosystem dimension
is as important within national parks as outside them.
Selection, Planning, Restoration, Management and Utilization
of National Parks
Hitherto, selection of sites for national parks in various countries
has been a rather disparate process. The motivations have varied
greatly from country to country, but usually they have with few
exceptions had one common denominator, namely that the area set
aside as a national park did not constitute for the time a so-called
economic sacrifice. Therefore most national parks of today are located
on marginal lands or on what was considered as wastelands. Fortunately,
many of these areas harhour a rich animal life and at the present
time function as refuges for many endangered species.
The idea of selecting areas for a national park system, based on
ecological criteria at a national level, in order to create a network
of representative ecosystems, biomes and habitats has successfully
been implemented by the United States and has been emphasized by
the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural
The obligations in the African Convention may lead to a fair representation
of ecosystems in each African country and, hence, on the African
continent. This is an example for other continents to follow because
it is now high time that the national parks and equivalent reserves
of the world should represent the different continental and oceanic
ecosystems and major biomes. In their approach to national park
systems and criteria for selection of areas for such reserves, the
world's nations must now together go beyond national boundaries
to create a representative global network of national parks which
will give humanity a complete pattern of various natural ecosystems
and major biomes. All these areas must be sufficiently large to
be ecologically self-supporting (or at least as much as possible).
Such an aim means that many ecosystems and biomes of the world have
to be restored. It may be said that such an ambitious scheme is
a luxury and that many countries cannot afford to participate in
it. In reality, most nations cannot afford not to participate in
such an effort. Far from being a luxury, the scheme will be of immense
benefit to mankind, and perhaps even a matter of survival to humanity.
The values of a global network of ecosystems preserved by national
parks are manifold, but the most important one is that they will
help man understand his environment and provide clues to ecological
problems whose solutions may aid posterity instead of leading to
Perhaps the most fundamental lesson we can draw from a normally
functioning ecosystem is its productivity, which is based on complex
interrelations between all its components. The rate of creation,
consumption, decomposition and recycling is of immense importance
for humanity to understand properly. Too often we neglect to recognize
the simple fact that natural communities are the most effective
systems for utilizing energy and chemical materials available in
the environment for continued production of living organisms. This
is the result of a long evolutionary history, from which man can
All this means an increased utilization of national parks. They
will no longer function only for recreational, aesthetic and ethical
reasons or for preserving endangered plants and animals. They will
have an even more important role, a role of paramount importance,
namely to serve as ecological sample areas for our guidance in restoring,
managing and utilizing properly the world's renewable natural resources.
The importance of national parks for human well-being and prosperity
will in the future certainly increase to dimensions far beyond the
present conventional estimate.
A new system of national parks hopefully will emerge through international
arrangements and cooperation. There will probably be more "international
national parks" located on both sides of the boundaries between
The era of ecological illiteracy will be succeeded by ecological
consciousness. People and governments will begin to understand that
the depletion of natural diversity and deterioration of environmental
quality are symptoms of a culture in decline. They will understand
that over-exploitation of the environment generates an accelerating
process of destructive forces, that collapse of ecosystems has led
to fall of civilizations, and that elimination of natural areas
makes the study of man's biological heritage impossible. Man's behaviour
is intimately linked to his heritage. Moreover, for man's cultural
and spiritual advancement diverse living landscapes are essential.
If all these facts are realized by nations and people, then there
will be a renaissance of natural ecosystems on this globe of ours.
The global network of ecosystems and major biomes must be based
on worldwide inventories. Useful material already exists thanks
to the International Biological Programme's Section on Conservation
of Terrestrial Habitats. Also, Projects MAR, AQUA, and TELMA of
IUCN provide lists of areas of international significance. Many
countries still have peripheral wilderness areas worth-while preserving.
Other regions, previously occupied by human beings but at present
abandoned, are restoring themselves to wildlands. This is the case
in many temperate countries in the northern hemisphere, particularly
in areas of Canada, the United States and Scandinavia, where an
early rural economy for subsistence has faded out with the emigration
to urban and industrial areas or to lands offering more fertile
soils. An example of such an abandoned area in the United States
is the Catskill Mountains in the Appalachians of New York State.
Deserted by farmers about 50 to 60 years ago, the wilderness is
now reconquering the Catskills and restoring an ecosystem to its
former shape and efficiency. The same process is going on in the
proposed Adirondacks National Park, also in New York State. Given
some cooperation and time, nature's ability to heal the wounds inflicted
by man is remarkable. This gives us hope of restoring manly damaged
ecosystems and biomes around the world. It is in the interest of
each nation to plan and execute such restoration of representative
landscapes so that they include an array of natural areas of significance.
It has to be done before it is too late.
In global ecological planning, the already existing national parks
will play an important role as a base on which to build and to complete.
Even many existing national parks have to be restored, because in
many of them habitats have been or still are too much influenced
by human activities and therefore are altering their character.
As we are dealing with dynamic entities and situations, a good deal
of this restoration will take place by itself and such self-restoration
is much more efficient than human attempts. Spontaneous recovery
of disturbed natural habitats should be given priority even if it
takes some time. However, many such restorations cannot be made
adequately, even by nature itself, without revision of the national
park boundaries based on ecological necessities in order to have
viable nature reserves. The boundaries were often conceived under
past conditions - including a different national park concept. To
deal adequately at the present time with the full range of pressures
and competing demands for land and water, it is necessary to re-evaluate
the status and use of areas surrounding national parks. In cases
where important areas cannot be added to the national parks, the
latter should at least be surrounded by buffer zones, where all
human activities are controlled as is stipulated by the African
Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Such control should be based on an appraisal of the total environment
of surrounding areas with emphasis on the physical, biological and
social systems of which they are parts.
An adequate zoning of areas within national parks will certainly
be an important trend in the next decades. This means that some
areas will not be visited at all except for scientific research
(strict nature reserves), others will be visited by hikers in restricted
numbers (wilderness areas), a third zone will have tracks and roads,
a fourth other kinds of tourist facilities, and so on. This zoning
could be flexible in time if necessary, for example to exclude visitors
from fragile areas during the breeding season of birds.
In the creation of a global network of national parks it should
not be forgotten that the most common natural areas are also important
to preserve. How far downwards, in the environmental hierarchy have
we to go in order to preserve? We have so far mentioned again and
again ecosystems and biomes but we have spoken very little about
habitats. Obviously it would be ideal to have protected samples
of all representative natural habitats of the world, but they are
virtually innumerable and they will not be easy to define. In the
desert of western Sahara, for example, Theodore Mound (1964) identified
no less than 33 habitats! Hopefully, most biotopes will be included
in the future network of national parks and major biomes covered
by national parks or equivalent reserves.
It is imperative that living examples of all species of plants
and animals as genetic resources be able to survive, and that large
areas representing all major types of unmodified world biota, both
aquatic and terrestrial, be preserved in order to permit present
and future generations of mankind to understand the potential ecological
diversity of natural ecosystems and the dynamic population ranges
of their organisms as contrasting examples to monocultures and other
We are now in a period of human history when it is necessary for
the survival of human populations to plan the environment ecologically
in combination with economic and social considerations. Such ecological
planning must cover all renewable natural resources of the earth,
and national parks will surely be a part of it. This global planning
leads towards a new dimension of national parks.
Unfortunately, management is necessary in most of the world's national
parks. This reflects the sad fact that very few national parks and
equivalent reserves are sufficiently large and undisturbed by human
action. The utilization of national parks for recreation with the
increasing pressure of visitors, vehicles, aircraft and all the
facilities following their wake (camping grounds, lodges, roads
and airstrips) makes it absolutely essential to manage in order
Whatever the objective for a national park, there should be a rule
to minimize management measures as much as possible.
A common dilemma, particularly for those parks located in the tropics
and subtropics but also in several temperate zones, is how to manage
animal populations. So far, a management practice has been suppression
of human predation. In most cases this is reasonable. But mammals
and birds learn that they are protected in a certain area - not
outside it. This creates problems. Some species may alter their
migratory habits by trying to remain as long as possible inside
the reserve. Others, previously living outside the national park,
may be moving into it in order to escape human persecution. In this
way, animal populations may increase to undesirable proportions
and have adverse effects on the biocommunities. Predators, parasites
and starvation may adjust the increasing populations to numbers
corresponding to the carrying capacity of the area. For some species,
however, these environmental mechanisms do not always immediately
or at all have regulating consequences before profound habitat alterations
strike back. In this sense, the creation of a national park or a
sanctuary may in itself be regarded as an artificial environmental
change as related to the surrounding area and the new reserve's
The question of human predation upon animals which have no other
natural enemies also is a tricky problem. To what degree was man's
past hunting of elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotami a limiting
factor for the populations of these species? These animals are rarely
preyed upon by other than man. This query will not be answered here.
The point is merely that, in the past, these big mammals had much
more room on the continents they inhabitated than they have nowadays.
They are now surrounded by man and unsuitable habitats and cannot
move freely as before. This is particularly the case with elephant
populations which normally wander over vast areas in what, in the
past, were presumably century-long movements correlated to or determining
vegetation cycles of similar duration. In confronting problems of
this magnitude, each national park has to find its own course. No
general recommendation can be made. The ecological situation inside
and outside each national park must determine with research help
the planning of management policy.
It has been stated many times on all continents that national parks
are established for two main reasons. One is the preservation of
exceptionally beautiful and interesting areas with their vegetation
and animal life for the enjoyment of people. The second reason is
to maintain an area (strict nature reserve or wilderness) undisturbed
for scientific research and for comparisons with man-influenced
areas. Both objectives can, in many cases, be met in the same national
park by a system of zoning.
To meet the first requirement, the goal in most scientifically
managed national park systems is to maintain plants and animals
native to the area under conditions as natural as possible and which
remain unaffected by human activities. This is an obviously long-term
aim which must involve management except for climax habitats. It
needs also the results of ecological research for guidelines.
No general management rules can exist for national parks, because
ecosystems, biomes and habitats are complex structures involving
many interacting and interdependent factors in different combinations
for each area. Therefore, each national park must develop its own
management schemes, based upon research and determined by policy.
However there are some general management features which seem to
be backed by an increasing international consensus of opinion expressed
by numerous conferences and meetings in various parts of the world.
They may be summarized as follows:
Protection should be given to all indigenous plants and animals
of the area without discriminating against predators.
If a reduction of animal populations is ecologically necessary for
the management of a national park, such culling shall be made by
professional hunters or the national park staff only. It shall be
done in such a way that visitors do not see, hear or smell what
is going on.
Cropping of surplus animals for meat, hides and trophies in national
parks where there is no environmental necessity to reduce animal
populations is entirely inconsistent with the principles for a national
All plant and animal species which spontaneously immigrate into
a national park should be allowed to settle there.
Re-introduction of plant and animal species or subspecies previously
found in the present national park area, but which have been exterminated
there due to human activities, is desirable provided the habitats
available have not changed so much that they have become unsuitable
for the species or subspecies.
Introduction of exotic plant and animal species and subspecies are
counter to national park principles. The only permissible exception
is in a case where it is judged by expertise that there is no possibility
for an endangered species to survive other than by being introduced
in a national park outside the species' present and past range.
No artificial feeding should be allowed in order to keep starving
animals alive. Lack of food is a process regulating animal populations!
Scarcity of water has the same effect. Provision of artificially
arranged watering points in periods of drought is a management tool
to be used with utmost care. In the dry season, water-points function
like magnets, attracting abnormally high numbers of herbivorous
animals. This has a detrimental effect upon vegetation and, ultimately,
upon the animals.
For the preservation of vegetation and prevention of erosion it
is desirable in national parks of all climatic regions to restrict
vehicles to established tracks and roads.
Snowmobiles or "skidoos" should be entirely abolished
as public means of transport in national parks.
In national parks set aside in cultivated landscapes to conserve
a certain type of habitat formed by human action during centuries
(heaths of heather along Europe's Atlantic coasts and highlands
of Scotland, coppices in Scandinavia, or meadows visited by migratory
geese in Romania) there is justification in maintaining the grazing
of livestock, without which these habitats and their wild animals
would disappear. This particular situation stresses both the fundamental
role of vegetation as a critical element in animal ecological requirements
and the effect of animals upon vegetation.
It is essential that national park management keep development of
visitor facilities within reasonable limits to avoid the destruction
or alteration of the very values for which the national park was
established and which are the reasons for visitors coming to the
area. It is also vital to scientific research that large parts remain
undisturbed. All these functions usually can be combined if not
more than 10 per cent of a national park's area is developed for
industrial tourism, provided that the remaining 90 per cent is not
negatively influenced by the development. The 10 per cent includes
all artificial installations such as buildings, roads, bridges,
lookouts and catwalks.
These twelve points are examples of management principles. They
could be extended further, but such elementary management principles
as protection from logging, undesirable fires, grazing by livestock,
and human settlement have been omitted. Fire alone could motivate
a whole chapter. Fishing deserves special attention from a principle
point of view. Sport angling and the introduction of exotic fish
for angling purposes are allowed in many national parks on several
continents. It is difficult for a biologist to understand why fish
and aquatic habitats in national parks should be treated differently
from terrestrial vertebrates and habitats. Biologically, ecologically,
genetically and bio-geographically, there is absolutely no reason
to consider fish and their habitats as less important components
in national parks as compared to any other animal species, plant
species or habitat (Curry-Lindahl 1972).
The Prime Role of National Parks is to Conserve
It must be generally recognized by all nations that the prime aim
for national parks is to preserve the whole environment within the
protected area in the most natural condition possible. All other
purposes must be regarded as secondary. The reasons for so doing
are all beneficial from social, scientific, economic and educational
points of view. A particularly important conservation role for national
parks is in the protection of species that are elsewhere endangered.
National parks and equivalent reserves constitute the most direct
and rational way to protect endangered and rare species of plants
and animals through habitat and ecosystem conservation. It may be
argued that species extinction is an age-old phenomenon that has
occurred for eons of time before man appeared on the scene. Therefore
it is sometimes asked, why bother to do anything against extinctions?
This question overlooks the sad fact that man through artificial
population increase (due to the medical revolution) and technological
advancement, has accelerated the process of extinction by exterminating
species every year and by pushing hundreds of other species to the
verge of extinction on a cataclysmic scale. Moreover, in the past
extinctions did not lead to ecological vacuums: replacement followed
as a part of the evolutionary process. When man exterminates, there
is a break in the evolutionary chain and there is no replacement.
Without precedent in earth's history is the wiping out of habitats
and biocommunities and of most species they include. It would go
beyond the scope of this lecture to discuss the manifold reasons
and advantages to humanity of doing the utmost to preserve endangered
and rare species. The most efficient way of doing it is through
national parks as a conservation of habitats, biomes and ecosystems.
Research in National Parks
Environmental sciences, particularly ecology, have during the last
decade become increasingly important for humanity and this evolution
has led to a growing demand for undisturbed research areas. This
trend puts national parks in the focus of the scientific world.
In ecological research, natural areas are the only conceivable reference
points enabling us to draw indisputable conclusions. They stress
our dependence on natural functions.
National parks also belong to the few areas of the world where
long-term investigations in quality and quantity, biomasses, energy
turnover and conversion rates, evolution and speciation and so forth,
can go on without human intervention.
Research is also of fundamental importance to the national parks
themselves, because continuous scientific investigations are needed
for the maintenance of such reserves. It is on research results
that policy, long-term planning, management, assessment of vulnerability
of the area, limitation of visitors and so forth, must be based.
A general rule should be, depending on the degree of ecological
autonomy of the ecosystem covered by the national park, that management
or manipulation should be kept to a minimum, and even totally excluded
Despite these elementary research needs as a basis for national
park systems, very few national parks in the world received the
benefit of ecological considerations and even less of ecological
research during their early stages of existence. This has led to
situations which jeopardize the values for which many national parks
were created. Ignorance of ecological components makes it impossible
to set a wise national park policy framed in ecological terms. In
the absence of such knowledge, no sound objectives can be determined
because it is impossible to understand the past, present and future
pattern of abiotic and biotic interrelationships within habitats
and ecosystems, to choose between ecological alternatives, and to
foresee ecological consequences.
For determining policy and drawing up lines for long-term research,
it is of basic importance to know the past history of the area concerned
and to what extent it has been influenced by human impact. Each
land or water system is the product of a long history of landscape
formation. Without facts about the historic background to the present
ecological setting of an area, there is the risk of making serious
mistakes in both research and management, as well as in establishing
a policy, because factors determining the prevailing situation are
It is essential to have the past and present ecology of a national
park area analyzed prior to the establishment of a policy for that
area. Once the policy for a national park has been determined, scientists
have to find through research the answers to many questions concerning
management methods leading to the policy's aims. Such replies cannot
be given without a thorough knowledge of the national park's ecology.
Long-term plans for ecological research in national parks as a
basis for management have been implemented only in relatively few
countries. It is remarkable that the research potential of national
parks is not fully utilized by the scientific world. It is even
more remarkable that so many governments seem to believe that their
departments can manage national park problems without the assistance
of ecological research.
Rather few national park systems of the world realize the ecological
complexity of areas they have in custody to keep "in perpetuity"
for the nation's benefit. The fact that knowledge must precede action
is generally recognized, but often it is not understood that knowledge
simply does not exist without data produced by long-term ecological
research or, at least, assessments by experienced ecologists. It
is essential also to understand that an ecological research programme
within a national park can never, once completed, be able to provide
definite guidelines for all times ahead. Nature is too dynamic.
Only in climax habitats may ecological research predict the future
for decades, provided no external factors become involved. But even
in climax areas there is no permanent ecological dominant.
A few national park organizations have during the last fifteen
years integrated ecological investigations into the objectives of
policy, conservation, management, utilization and development.
Here at the University of California in Berkeley I really do not
need to speak at length on the necessity to undertake research in
national parks, because already in 1963 your eminent conservationist
and researcher Professor A. Starker Leopold, as chairman of a committee
on the subject, strongly emphasized the necessity of such work by
publishing a critical analysis of research needs in the U.S. national
parks. I would like to seize the opportunity to pay tribute to Leopold
and his colleagues because their report has in many ways inspired
me in my own work when giving advice to governments on national
Educational Benefits from National Parks
In the field of education, a system of national parks covering
ecosystems representing a wide variety of habitats and biomes from
geological, hydrological, physiographical and ecological points
of view would also be of great value to each country. Climax communities
are of particular educational value because they show how diversity
represents productive and healthy environments, in contrast to monocultures
which are only "viable" with the application of increasingly
toxic pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
Ecology in action can best be studied and learned in national parks
where short-term and long-term environmental processes stand out
more clearly and more positively than in areas disturbed by human
activities. Schools, colleges and universities need natural areas
for the teaching of biology. So far, relatively little attention
or understanding have been given by education planners to this elementary
need in any educational system. Yet, the success of our species
may depend on how young people understand the environment and man
as a component of it. If we do not react, through knowledge, against
factors ruining land and water, then the human future is in jeopardy.
The interpretative services of national parks are important means
to get the educational conservation message across to visitors and
to make each national park visit meaningful. So far only a few of
the national parks in the world, except for the United States (and,
on a minor scale, in some other countries) have developed this potential
instrument of education at all age levels.
It is likely that education centers in national parks will in future
years be important in the combat against ecological illiteracy.
They will be a useful antidote against the dangerous philosophy
that technological progress alone will solve all problems of mankind.
To accomplish this interpretation, programs in national parks must
be directed in a more general way to the total environment and the
function of a living landscape rather than the elucidation of exceptional
The ideal way to get national park visitors to understand the environment
and man's place in it is probably to follow Edwards' (1965) recommendation
that the interpretation should be a combination of at least six
services, namely information, guiding, educational, entertaining,
propaganda and inspirational. Such educational programmes will also
lead to a better public understanding of the role of national parks
for the human society. The African Convention on Conservation of
Nature and Natural Resources includes an article on conservation
education that among other things stipulates that the Contracting
States "shall make maximum use of the educational value of
conservation areas." "Conservation areas" are just
national parks and equivalent reserves.
Recreation and Tourism in National Parks
Recreation and tourism in national parks are social utilizations
of great importance for the function of such reserves, but nevertheless
they are only a part of the justification for creating national
In the developing world the realization of the tourist potential
of national parks and equivalent nature reserves, together with
an appreciation of the economic returns, have to a great extent
during the past fifteen years encouraged the establishment of such
conservation areas, particularly in Africa. It is, however, interesting
to note that during the last years there is an emerging and growing
consciousness among some African statesmen that national parks have
other and higher values than just serving to bring in economic returns
from tourism. The Presidents of Tanzania, Zaire and Zambia have
expressed advanced views that national parks of their countries
represent a heritage of great cultural values, where nature and
wildlife have to be preserved for its own sake without being developed
for economic activities. Both Zaire and Zambia have established
large national parks, which are not open for tourism.
For developing countries which must utilize their natural resources
in a manner which contributes to the national revenue, tourism is
obviously of great importance for government appreciation of the
vital role national parks play in the national economy. Of course,
income from tourism is far from being the only asset a national
park represents. In Africa, the economic potential of national parks
and nature reserves, based upon tourism and recreational revenue,
is often much greater than would be the case if the same areas were
developed for agriculture, forestry or other forms of exploitation.
Thanks to the establishment in Africa of a network of national
parks open to visitors, a quite new industry has developed in the
form of international tourism. In East Africa, particularly, this
new industry has rapidly realized the enormous potential of national
parks with their spectacular animal life and natural scenic beauty.
In developing national parks without destroying or diminishing the
natural attractions which are the very reason for the flow of tourists
to the nature reserves, the East African countries have succeeded
in creating a flourishing industry with relatively little investment.
Today the tourist industry in the East African countries is one
of the most important sources of national revenue. This industry
is entirely based upon the existence of national parks and equivalent
There is no doubt, if present trends continue, that the recreational
role of national parks will increase tremendously in the future.
In 1970 the national parks system of the United States was visited
by 172,004,600 people and those of East Africa (that is, Uganda,
Kenya and Tanzania) by 571,457. For the same year the foreign exchange
earnings from tourists visiting Kenya alone was $53,249,700. This
trend is a positive force speaking in favour of national parks but
it also increases the pressure on the national parks.
I believe that with an increasingly enlightened understanding of
the environment and of the lessons we can draw from it, it will
be easier to defend the prime purpose, which is preservation, of
national parks and equivalent reserves as irreplaceable areas against
political pressure from governments, states, provinces, counties
and municipalities to develop them for mass recreation.
The over-all real recreational values of national parks are difficult
to assess. The physical and mental health of segments of human populations
are certainly dependent on outdoor recreation in natural areas not
overcrowded by human beings. The aesthetic enjoyment of such visits
signifies for many people a tremendous inspiration, the value of
which to society should not be underestimated. There is a quality
in wild nature that is irreplaceable and that has always inspired
and enchanted man. This aspect must be considered as an integral
part of human culture.
Strict Nature Reserves and Wilderness Areas
A classification for various categories of protected areas was
discussed and approved by the International Commission on National
Parks during the 11th General Assembly of IUCN at Banff, Canada,
in September 1972. This was subsequently presented to the Second
World Conference on National Parks at Grand Teton National Park
in the same month.
This classification of protected zones has been published by IUCN
(1973). It places emphasis on the purpose for which the area was
set aside and protected, and on the shaping of management to achieve
this purpose. It is recognized that national parks and many equivalent
reserves are usually made up of more than one of these areas; in
some cases such areas are designated by the management authority.
Strict nature reserves or "strict natural zones" in IUCN's
terminology have to be left undisturbed in order to have them available
for scientific study, aesthetic interest, or for the contribution
they can make to the value of other areas.
Wilderness areas have two principal purposes: protecting nature
(defined as primary) and that of providing recreation for those
capable of enduring the vicissitudes of wilderness travel by primitive
The increasing appreciation of wilderness is a good sign, but let
us hope that it does not develop to a mass movement, because a wilderness
area will cease to be wilderness if invaded by too many people at
the same time. Its qualities will simply be trampled down. On the
other hand, the growing public sympathy for wilderness areas might
politically balance the present severe pressures on wilderness lands.
Therefore, one should not be too restrictive in allowing hikers
access to wilderness areas located in national parks. Since each
wilderness area differs from another it must be the special values,
functions, accessibility and degree of fragility characterizing
each area that determines the number of visitors during different
seasons of the year. Many areas can probably absorb more visitors
in the autumn than in the spring. A flexible system synchronized
with the seasonally variable environmental capacity to receive visitors
without habitat disturbances should be worked out, guided by research.
Thus a zoning system, both in space and time, may avoid damage.
National Parks and Genetic Resources
An increasingly important role of the national parks of to morrow
will be to preserve the genetic diversity of life. Wild plants and
animals specialized to various habitats ranging from arctic areas,
deserts and alpine zones to tropical rain forests, lakes and oceans
possess physiological and morphological adaptations representing
irreplaceable scientific qualities, which man, when his understanding
thereof has increased, can make use of in order to augment biological
productivity in various regions of the world.
The population of the world is expected to double by the year 2000,
but our planet's land area on which to grow food can be expanded
only by the addition of gradually poorer lands at the same time
as the lands now under cultivation are deteriorating due to over-utilization
and other unwise land use. The fertility of crops and the productivity
of both wild and domestic animal resources are therefore increasingly
vital. Genetic diversity is essential to fertility and to the health
of plants and animals at population level.
These facts were recognized by the Governing Council of the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at its meeting in Nairobi in
March, 1974, and it was considered that the preservation of genetic
diversity should be one of UNEP's most important objectives and
In UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) there is an important
project on "conservation of natural areas and of the genetic
material they contain" which will be based on a world-wide
network of representative significant ecosystems called "biosphere
Marine National Parks
So far the manifold usefulness of marine national parks or equivalent
reserves has been totally shadowed by terrestrial national parks,
probably because the former deal with an element in which man is
not entirely at home. However, in recent times it has been realized
that not only marine habitats but entire seas and oceans must be
protected from over-exploitation and pollution.
During the last decade marine national parks and nature reserves
have become increasingly popular. This is indicated by the growing
number of visitors who come from far away to skin dive and goggle
at coral reefs protected by established reserves. For developing
countries in tropical and subtropical countries this kind of attraction
involving a non-consumptive use is indeed an important source of
Experiences from submarine national parks and equivalent reserves
in Florida, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands of the Caribbean, Costa
Rica, Kenya, Ceylon, Japan, Australia and many islands in the southern
Pacific show not only the tremendous potential of these reserves
but also the fact that they are easy to run, provided the control
does not allow damaging activities such as dynamiting for fishing,
spear fishing, collecting of shells, corals and other invertebrates
and so on. The latter activities are so destructive that they sabotage
the whole meaning of a submarine national park, as has unfortunately
been the case in Kenya.
Coming decades will undoubtedly see the establishment of many new
marine national parks. They are in principle as important as terrestrial
reserves for science, education and recreation, but obviously tourism
will initially be the driving factor.
Progressively it will be realized that marine reserves have also
other important functions. Marine national parks and reserves are,
for example, an important aspect of reef fisheries management, particularly
in relation to natural recruitment of commercially important fish
The last centuries have witnessed a reckless destruction of oceanic
and continental islands to such an extent that at present very few
island ecosystems remain intact. Insularity and isolation of marine
islands have contributed to biogeographical peculiarities of great
interest. They show more clearly than elsewhere the mechanism of
evolution, working undisturbed through millenniums, the building
up of biocommunities, and the rate of colonization of recently arrived
organisms. This display of evolution is highly significant and of
great scientific value for environmental understanding. Island ecosystems
also provide data on land-sea interactions which are easier to understand
than in the more complex continental ecosystems.
National parks comprising entire island ecosystems do not serve
only as scientifically significant laboratories. They may also be
utilized for recreational activities. However, so far very few such
reserves exist. It is urgent to establish island ecosystem national
parks before it is too late.
A very special case is the Galapagos archipelago. The unique scientific
interest and importance of these islands require to be acknowledged
in a world-wide scale by a rescue operation to save them from the
pressures imposed by local inhabitants and lack of governmental
land use control.
A Plea for the Galapagos Isles as a National Park
The University of California in Berkeley has been more involved
in research in the Galapagos than any other university. Therefore,
it may be appropriate to make a plea for the Galapagos archipelago
here on this campus.
The whole civilized world was moved to action by the planned artificial
flooding of the Nile for the Aswan High Dam project in Egypt and
the Sudan, which, although claimed to be beneficial to Egypt's economy,
was bound to destroy by inundation 3,000-year-old temples and monuments
and at least 46 Nubian archaeological sites, apart from drowning
the homeland of 122,000 Nubian villagers. Yet many of these treasures
were rescued by removal before the waters rose because funds were
obtained from all over the world - $36 million, in fact.
A fraction of this sum could save many animal and plant species
from extinction and wild areas from destruction. But no organization
or government has yet suggested similar action on a global scale
for saving the vanishing treasures of nature - the living monuments
from ages far older than the period of human existence.
Each species is, moreover, a master product of the environment
and a result of an endless evolutionary chain, representing an unbroken
line of descent from the dawn of life. One could argue forcefully
that the scientific value of the mere existence of such species
is much higher than that of any ancient temple.
The opposite, however, is true. The conscience and concern of man
for living treasures is less, apparently, than for man-made ones.
This may be a reflection of man's tremendous self-satisfaction regarding
his capacity to manipulate the environment, or it may be due to
his ignorance of the disastrous long-term consequences of such manipulation.
It is probably both, and will unavoidably result in more trouble
ahead. For instance, it leads to a dangerous apathy towards the
continuous lowering in quality of man's living environment, caused
by technological pressure. Moreover, the wounds inflicted on living
nature by extermination of species remain forever.
Plant and animal species are far more precious than most human
beings and their governments seem to realize. The species threatened
by extinction in various parts of the world are not single isolated
organisms which should be regarded merely as scientifically interesting
or aesthetically attractive. They represent much more, because they
are an integrated part of a habitat, a complete living landscape,
where evolution is in full swing and, therefore, significant and
important to science. Such living treasure, properly used, can enrich
man's life in his cultural, educational, aesthetic and scientific
endeavours and contribute ultimately to the fulfillment of his expectations
for a better life.
The Galapagos Isles represent, perhaps more than any other region,
an area which has fired the imagination of man ever since Charles
Darwin, through his careful observation and deductions, laid the
foundations of one of the greatest of all revolutions in human thought.
Therefore, the present decline of the natural habitats of Galapagos
as a consequence of human action, and the threat that this represents
to the wild plants and animals that depend on these habitats for
their survival, can be viewed as a disaster for humanity and may
be regarded as even more serious than the destruction of the ancient
Egyptian temples. Unfortunately, this is not generally realized
and public opinion urgently needs to be awakened to an awareness
of the immense loss due to lack of action. While it is up to the
authorities of Ecuador and the Charles Darwin Foundation for the
Galapagos Isles to take appropriate action, they can hardly hope
to do it alone. The task is of such magnitude that the Foundation
must seek strong allies; in fact, the support of the whole world
is needed. Fortunately, the Foundation has a patron in UNESCO, which
is deeply interested in the Galapagos (and which was, moreover,
the UN agency which organized and sponsored the global action for
saving the ancient temples at Abu Simbel). But even UNESCO's support
is insufficient by itself, in view of the pressing problems.
Universal backing for present efforts to create a national park
covering the whole archipelago is needed and fully justified. A
"rescue operation" in the Galapagos would save not only
significant ecosystems and habitats but would also serve to emphasize
the importance of saving threatened species. Therefore, the benefits
of such an action would not be restricted to the Galapagos. It would
illustrate, in a world-wide perspective, how unchanged fragments
of intact nature with a full set of animal species may bring to
us many invaluable advantages and information, providing useful
guidelines for development of other areas without causing destruction
of their environmental productivity and health. Together with these
values, the genetical importance of the preservation of animal species
in a natural system must be stressed. Only in free-living populations
of a species is a free exchange of genes realized. We never know
in advance which environmental, chemical or medicinal use a wild
species may have for humanity in the future.
The only forms of land use which seem to be compatible with the
fragility and vulnerability of the biological systems in Galapagos
are research and controlled tourism.
I sincerely hope that the University of California will consider
initiating a global action for saving the Galapagos Isles.
Migration Routes of Mammals
National parks have an important conservation role in the protection
of migratory animals. This conservation function requires special
considerations in the selection and planning of national parks because
it affects the location, size and boundaries of such reserves. Of
particular importance to the understanding and management of an
ecosystem is thorough research on how animal populations, especially
mammalian ones, migrate seasonally in and outside of a national
park and why. There is little point in creating a reserve for mammals
if their basic food requirements for a part of the year are found
outside the reserve. General knowledge of the biology of particular
species is not enough. A species may be resident in one area but
migratory in another even if the two areas lie close to each other.
An example of such a situation is the neighbouring Serengeti National
Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. In the former,
the general majority of all large mammals migrate with a fairly
regular pattern over vast areas. In contrast, the same species of
ungulates living in the latter area generally spend most of their
time within the area formed by the crater's walls.
There are too many examples of serious mistakes in delineating
national parks due to lack of knowledge of territorial requirements
and migratory patterns of mammals, particularly as to how herbivorous
species fit into the ecosystem. Migration patterns have too often
been drastically cut by the boundaries of a national park leaving
important areas necessary for the long-term survival of many species
outside the reserve-which often means that man-caused alterations
make these outside -habitats unsuitable for seasonal use by migratory
mammals. Such mistakes have jeopardized the purpose for which certain
important national parks were established. Also watersheds and vegetation
stability may be upset by unwise national park demarcations due
to lack of ecological insight.
In the future, ecosystem dimensional considerations for national
park boundaries, particularly in regard to populations of mammals,
will certainly play a much bigger role than hitherto.
Flyways of Birds
You Americans know better than any other people how important it
is to provide a network of suitable habitats to migrating birds,
particularly waterfowl. For swans, geese, ducks and waders lakes,
marshes and swamps are not only essential during the breeding period
but also for feeding and resting while on migration, for moulting,
and for wintering purposes. Canada, the United States and Mexico
have shown the way to effective waterfowl management through internationally
coordinated action. Your network of reserves and refuges for waterfowl
has yet to be paralleled in other parts of the world. The Convention
on the Conservation of Wetlands of International Importance, especially
as Waterfowl Habitat, adopted in Ramsar, Iran, 1971, is aiming at
the preservation, management and wise utilization of the most important
wetlands of Europe, Asia and Africa with the particular purpose
of building up a network of nature reserves for aquatic birds within
the range they utilize for their various activities.
But there are also migratory birds other than waterfowl that require
availability of suitable habitats and protection in certain areas
where they periodically concentrate in great numbers. Passerine
birds often migrate on a broad front crossing seas and deserts.
They are in great need of protected areas for feeding and resting
after they have made such a crossing, for instance over the Caribbean
Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean Sea or the Sahara Desert,
the South China Sea or the Bay of Bengal. Yet, their points of arrival,
particularly in the Mediterranean area, are regularly the scene
of mass slaughter through trapping and shooting during both the
vernal and fall migrations. These massacres hit indiscriminately
both rare and common species. Here, a network of protected areas
is necessary and of international interest. Some oases in the Sahara
also function as feeding and resting stations, although it appears
that the birds find these more at random while crossing the Sahara
on a broad front.
Birds of prey often congregate in great numbers at certain sites,
due to physio-geographical factors. Many species follow land contours,
because they prefer not to fly over wide open seas or great lakes.
Obviously, birds are very vulnerable to human persecution at such
passage sites, where hecatombs of raptors fall victim every year
to human greed or pleasure. Examples of important areas for seasonal
mass migration and/or resting of birds of prey are many parts of
Central America, Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, the Bosphorus in
Turkey, the archipelago of Greece, Malta, Cyprus, and the Falsterbo
Peninsula in Sweden.
All these areas of great importance for migratory birds should
be preserved at least during the passage periods. A few of them
Breeding Sites of Migratory Reptiles
Marine turtles belong to one of the world's most important assets
as a protein resource both in form of meat and eggs. Moreover, they
also produce oily substances, fat, carapace ("turtle shell")
and other items which are highly paid for in world markets. Therefore,
all populations of marine turtles have been seriously depleted.
In this ongoing destruction the egg-laying sites of marine turtles
are key areas for their survival. An international effort must be
made to give all marine turtles adequate protection on their breeding
grounds and adjacent sea areas in order to restore their populations
to a level which would allow sustainable yields. Only a global network
of strictly protected shore reserves during the breeding seasons
can save these very economically useful reptiles.
Migration Pathways for Fish
It is almost too late to preserve any major river system in its
entirety. There would be many ecological and economic. advantages
in doing so - hydrological, limnological, ichtyological and so forth.
Migratory routes for fish utilizing national park water systems
have often been cut or negatively influenced due to human-caused
interferences both inside and outside national parks. It would certainly
be of great ecological value to mankind if at least some river systems
supporting migratory fish, both anadromous species and species spending
their whole life cycle in freshwater, could be preserved.
Human Populations and National Parks
It is essential that the establishment of national parks and equivalent
reserves shall not be imposed on human populations living in and
around these areas by the authorities of a country. Bitter experiences
have shown how important it is that local populations understand
from the beginning how the setting aside of a national park may
produce long-term improvements of their own life conditions both
at individual and collective levels.
The problem of compensation to local populations directly concerned
with the activities of national parks is a tricky one. One of the
most important things is to eliminate the antagonism that local
populations in developing countries often have against national
parks. This negative attitude in most cases is induced by psychological
and economic reasons. As adviser in ecology and conservation to
almost 40 African governments during four years, I have discussed
this problem with government officials in quite a number of countries.
According to my experiences from other continents, the situation
is very similar in developing countries outside Africa, but perhaps
less burning than in Africa where the revenues from national parks
are usually higher and more visible than elsewhere due to a flourishing
tourist industry. This is particularly the case in East Africa.
In most cases local populations living in the neighbourhood of
national parks feel that it is their land which has been "taken
away" from them, although in every case I know of these people,
or their chiefs or their villages or their county councils, have
been compensated in various forms according to deals which have
been agreed upon after long and often complicated enquiries, hearings
and negotiations. Both the colonial regimes and the present governments
have in the cases I know of been meticulous to settle all land ownership
problems before a deal was concluded. This means that from legal
aspects the populations concerned have no reasons to complain.
However, after having understood that some national parks are gold
mines yielding considerable revenues, many individuals, village
groups and tribes living close to national parks feel that they
get very little out of them. Even if they did not virtually live
in the national parks prior to their establishment, they often used
them for hunting, fishing, charcoal burning and so forth. Therefore,
they consider the area as their land, that in many cases had been
used as hunting grounds by their ancestors for hundreds of years.
The fact that the local people no longer have the right to utilize
the land that they consider was once theirs, but see it frequently
visited by foreign people, brings in psychological reactions. Most
local leaders realize the benefits and advantages that their county
councils (or similar units) receive from national park revenues,
but the individuals do not. The local revenues from national parks
are often invested in building of schools, hospitals, roads and
other communal services. The very fact that the local benefit is
collective makes it inconspicuous to the individuals of the community,
particularly since they feel that these social investments should
be made anyway, as is the case for communities located far away
from national parks where there are no revenues at all from the
park. On this point the people are right, without doubt.
In addition to the problems just mentioned is the pressure from
the people to get land for cultivation and livestock grazing. Ecologically
and economically it would be disastrous to convert marginal lands
(on which most national parks in the tropics are located) to such
a land use, which automatically sooner or later leads to over-cultivation,
over-grazing, over-trampling and, finally, an ecological collapse
with a ruined landscape as a result. But socially, politically and
psychologically it is difficult for governments and county councils
to withstand the human hunger for land. This is, of course, a problem
which ultimately can only be solved by long-term planning of populations.
As it is essential for the future of national parks in developing
countries that the people do not consider conservation areas as
antagonistic to national and local interests, I have often in my
discussions with governments taken up the very important subject
of how to channel national revenues derived from national parks
to local populations living in the areas directly concerned.
As it is quite clear that most people living within the sphere
of a national park feel that they have no advantage from it despite
the building of schools, hospitals, etc., it seems to be important
psychologically that each head of family or adult village citizen
receive some form of individual compensation as a token of the benefit
coming from national parks. As in most cases the majority of the
people concerned have such a low annual income that they do not
pay any taxes, the compensation cannot be in the form of reduced
taxes. Therefore, I have suggested in discussions with several African
governments a system of annual cash compensation. I believe that
such a concrete contribution at individual level will have a considerable
psychologically positive effect and will turn local people sympathetic
to "their" national parks. Moreover, it is important to
make clear to the people that all public buildings, roads and other
communal facilities, which have been developed from national park
revenues, really have derived from this source. A well-displayed
plaque reminding people that a school or a hospital exists thanks
to the revenue from the national parks or come "from the animals
of X National Park," would certainly in the long run contribute
to making people understand that it is to their benefit to live
close to a national park.
There have been different reactions in various countries to the
proposal of cash compensation at individual level. Some government
officials have welcomed this suggestion and feel that it is feasible;
others are against it for reasons of principle.
In my view a flexible approach to this problem is necessary, because
in some countries the local animosity against national parks may
jeopardize their future. This would, in the long run, undoubtedly
be a tragic loss not only to the region concerned but also to the
nation and to the world.
Particularly in the tropics but also elsewhere (for example in
Hokkaido) primitive tribes are living in or just outside national
parks. Should they be allowed to occupy national parks or to use
them for collecting, fishing and hunting? In my opinion they have
to be permitted to do so if they so wish, provided they utilize
the environment in the same way as do the Indian tribes in the Amazonas,
the pygmies in the equatorial lowland rain forest of the Congo,
the negritos in Mount Apo National Park in Mindanao of the Philippines,
the Papuans of New Guinea, and the aborigines of Australia. All
these groups make use of the environment as collectors, scavengers
and hunters in exactly the same way as wild animals do: they utilize
resources without destroying them. They are a natural part of the
Today, few people deny that living plants and animals are important
to mankind for a variety of reasons that transcend usefulness. It
is therefore our duty to preserve as much as we can not only for
ourselves but also for future generations. The most direct way of
doing this is to set aside national parks and nature reserves representing
the major habitats, biomes and ecosystems of the world.
The fact that a considerable part of public interest in conservation
is motivated by ethical beliefs should be respected. To many people
it gives immense satisfaction to know that wild habitats and wild
animals are protected at least somewhere, even if many of these
people for various reasons are unable to visit these areas.
Those who have had an opportunity to study closely mammals such
as primates, carnivores, seals and whales, have been struck by their
admirably high degree of intelligence, by their individual characters,
by their personalities, and by their developed social systems. They
show convincingly that man is not the only ethical animal. It would
be absurd to claim that these animals have no intrinsic right to
exist. Of course, also other animal species than the four orders
just mentioned live meaningful lives not only within their own communities
but also as a part of ecosystems. They too have an intrinsic right
to exist, and they can do so in national parks. It is also primarily
in national parks that man can get rid of the many fallacies and
misconceptions concerning animals that have prevailed for generations.
The ethical aspects of nature and its animals does not yet carry
much weight in a world where everything must have an economic value
to be appreciated. In the future, recognition will certainly be
much more widespread than at present. Raymond F. Dasmann (1964)
even goes so far as to say there is good reason to believe that
if we do not accept such an ethic, the future of man on this planet
is likely to be short and violent. Dasmann refers to Aldo Leopold's
words (1949) of a "land ethic" that implies respect for
our fellow members (plants and animals) of the land community and
also respect for this biocommunity as such.
National Parks - a Key to Environmental Understanding
I believe we all agree that national parks and equivalent nature
reserves as a sensible use of natural resources play an important
role in the scientific, educational, economic, cultural and recreational
activities of many countries. Yet, it seems to me that it is the
ecological role of national parks to provide humanity with a key
to environmental understanding that is the most fundamental and
important function of such nature reserves besides all other advantages
they give us. Particularly in our time of very rapid social evolution
this aspect of national parks is of paramount importance.
Despite this, few people realize or even think of this function
of national parks. In the United States, Darling and Eichhorn (1967)
in a survey on man and nature in the U.S. national parks found surprisingly
few people who had an appreciation of what national parks are for.
This may be due to the fact that in the United States national parks
have flourished for such a long time that people take it for granted
that these reserves only serve as pleasure grounds for outdoor recreation.
If we accept the notion that national parks are set aside primarily
for preserving species, habitats, biomes and ecosystems as national
assets and reference areas for environmental understanding to our
own benefit, then all other uses of these reserves must be planned
so they do not hamper the main function.
A Global Network of National Parks
The national park systems of most countries are incomplete. Future
work must therefore be planned to include examples of major landscape
types with their geological and biological resources intact. In
most cases this endeavour must necessarily mean restoration schemes,
because most ecosystems are already destroyed or altered. Fortunately,
natural systems have great self-restoring powers and left to themselves
will recover progressively provided destruction by humans is not
irreversible. We can help in this recovery by carefully planned
measures in order to speed up the process.
The world of tomorrow will fully realize the importance of having
intact ecosystems in various parts of the world for comparative
studies-comparisons with areas which have been heavily or modestly
used. We need such comparisons from which governments, landscape
planners and society as a whole can draw conclusions and lessons
that intact ecosystems can teach us. Without these intact areas
we have nothing for comparison and this would be a shortcoming for
the future existence of mankind. These ecosystems, of course, are
extremely important in themselves and this need not be emphasized.
Such large areas could be used as national parks because they would
be preserved, and if a representative ecosystem is preserved in
the form of a national park it is not necessary to exclude all other
activities so long as these activities are not detrimental to the
I am pleased to report to you that at the Second Meeting of the
Governing Council of the UNEP in Nairobi in March the importance
of preserving ecosystems, biomes and habitats through an expanded
network of national parks and equivalent reserves was emphasized
by many delegations. It was suggested that particular attention
should be paid to geographical regions such as West Africa, Asia,
Antarctica, Indian Ocean, and to ecological regions such as oceans,
seas, coasts, wetlands, forests and arid lands. In this context
the vulnerability of wetlands to human activities was stressed.
The importance of marine national parks was mentioned in different
ways by several delegations.
The 1973 United Nations List of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves
(IUCN 1973) lists 978 areas in 97 countries. They form the basis
for a future, expanded global network of national parks which hopefully
will be a part of the ecological planning during the next decades.
It is a great but necessary task to protect the already existing
national parks, because they represent some samples of the world's
major habitats, biomes and ecosystems. However, these samples must
be completed so that they cover a wide spectrum of the world's natural
The desirability, not to say the necessity, of establishing a global
network of national parks and equivalent reserves has been emphasized
in this lecture. The advantages of such a system have been explained.
An idea conceived in the United States is a World Heritage Trust,
that in the form of an international convention will safeguard for
all times outstanding natural environments, by preference at an
ecosystem level-or at least representing natural units.
This trust is in the form of an international convention taken
care of by UNESCO. In addition to natural areas having unique world-wide
value it also includes cultural sites such as historical and archeological
monuments of similar values. They will be treated as part of the
heritage of all mankind. Such an arrangement would impose no limitations
on the sovereignty of those nations which choose to participate,
but would extend special international recognition to the areas
which qualify and would make available technical and other assistance
to help in their protection and management.
Hopefully, most of the world's most valuable national parks will
be part of this Heritage Trust. It is appropriate here to quote
a passage from your President's message in 1971 to the Congress
on the environment: "Confronted with the pressures of population
and development, and with the world's tremendously increased capacity
for environmental modification, we must act together now to save
for future generations the most outstanding natural areas as well
as places of unique historical, archaeological, architectural, and
cultural value to mankind."
The Integrity of National Parks
In connection with the transfer of the Yosemite Valley in California
to a public resort status in 1864, Congress declared that "some
lands should be held in public ownership, perpetually, for other
than material gain or richness." One hundred and five years
later the 10th General Assembly of IUCN, meeting in New Delhi, adopted
unanimously a definition of a national park adhering to the same
Hence the concept of the integrity of national parks has been in
existence even before the very first national park was created 102
years ago. It is not a new philosophy. Yet, numerous governments
have violated this concept by exploitation of national parks leading
to serious destruction.
Even in the United States, where the idea of "perpetual preservation"
was born, a dam to provide water for San Francisco was proposed
about 70 years ago. The proposal was fought by conservationists
throughout the country led by John Muir and the Sierra Club. The
fight went on for years, but in 1913 the Congress passed the bill
and the dam was built. That was the last time a dam was authorized
to be built in a U.S. National Park. Since then the U.S. has respected
the integrity of national parks. Unfortunately, other governments
have shown less responsibility by exploiting national parks for
hydro-electric purposes and other uses with consequences so grave
that they have destroyed for all time irreplaceable values. Private
conservation organizations have fought bitterly against their governments'
lack of foresight and wisdom but usually without results. Irreversible
destruction, caused by governments, has taken place in national
parks and equivalent reserves in many countries.
As a Swede I regret to say that Sweden has during the last decades
by destruction through governmental projects, ravished more national
parks and equivalent reserves than any other country. Her government
has without economic pressure initiated and exploited one national
park and nature reserve after another. The destruction is still
going on despite protests from responsible national and international
conservation organizations during the last 30 years.
The example from Sweden shows that in some flagrant cases of environmental
misuse and violation of national parks, it is imperative to exercise
international pressure on a government in order to get it to respect
the national parks' integrity and international conservation solidarity.
It is obvious that national parks and equivalent reserves must
be protected against all human exploitation of their natural resources
and against all other derogation of their integrity resulting from
It is time in our stage of civilization and after ion years of
national parks activities in the world, that all nations declare
their acceptance of the integrity of national parks as a universal
act of solidarity. Man-made major modifications in national parks
must be banned in the interest of humanity. Such a decision would
be a step forward for our civilization.
Cahn, R. 1968. Will success spoil the national parks? Boston.
Curry-Lindahl, K. 1972. Ecological research and management. In
J. P. Harroy (ed.) World National Parks. Progress and Opportunities,
pp. 197-213. Brussels.
Darlinf, F. F. and Eichorn, N. D. 1967. Man and Nature in National
Dasmann, R. P. 1964. Wildlife Biology. New York.
Edwards, R. Y. 1965. What is park interpretation? (Mimeographed
paper to the Canadian National Parks Branch Training School) . 7
IUCN. 1973. 1973 United Nations List of National Parks and Equivalent
Reserves. IUCN Publications New Series. 27:1-48.
Leopold, A. 1949. A Sand County Almanac. New York.
Leopold, A. S., Robbins, W. J., et al. 1963. A Report by the Advisory
Committee to the National Park Service on Research. National Academy
of Sciences, Wash-ington.
Monod, T. 1964. The strict nature reserve and its role. In: A.
B. Adams (ed.): First World Conference on National Parks, pp. 259-267.
Introducing: Barry Commoner
Travel between Swedish Lapland and the equatorial regions of Africa
is a normal part of the life cycle of certain trans-equatorial migratory
birds. So, too, such travel must be a part of the life style of
those such as Kai Curry-Lindahl who would study them.
Dr. Curry-Lindahl is a native of Sweden and a distinguished zoologist
whose major research interests have been in the ecology, biology,
and population dynamics of vertebrates, particularly in the subarctic
and arctic areas of Swedish Lapland and in the tropical areas of
Africa. He has made important contributions to the knowledge of
the physiology of migratory birds.
Throughout his career he has been actively concerned with the preservation
of natural areas, with contributing to the understanding and solution
of environmental problems, with land use planning, and with the
whole complex network of man's interactions with his environment.
From 1943 to 1952 he served as editor of Sveriges Natur, the publication
of the Swedish Society for the Conservation of Nature. In 1953 he
was appointed as Director of the Department of Natural History of
the Nordic Museum and Skansen, Stockholm. While continuing to hold
this post, he has frequently been on leave to serve as a participant
in or leader of various zoological-ecological expeditions in many
parts of the world, as a lecturer at a number of universities, and,
particularly in recent years, as an adviser in environmental matters
to various governmental bodies and to the United Nations.
In 1968 and1969 he served as special consultant to UNESCO for the
Intergovernmental Conference of Experts on the Scientific Basis
for Rational Use and Conservation of the Resources of the Biosphere.
From 1970 through 1973 he served as expert in ecology and conservation
for Africa for UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme.
He now holds the position of Senior Adviser, United Nations Environment
Programme, with headquarters in Nairobi. In this post he is concerned
with environmental issues throughout the world.
His interest in national parks is of long standing. From 1966 through
1972 he served as Vice-Chairman of the International Commission
on National Parks of the International Union for the Conservation
of Nature. Among the 57 books he has written or edited is a two-volume
study of the national parks of the world.
He has drawn on his world-wide experience in preparing this Albright
lecture on Horace Albright's consuming interest - the national parks.
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