There are a myriad of reasons why we need National Parks other than tourism. Preserving our rich natural diversity is essential to mankind’s survival on the planet earth. The idea of preserving certain lands or ecosystems for their unique topographic features along with the plants and animals that live within the confines of these geographic regions is a primary reason for creation of National Parks. The creation of National Parks worldwide is governed by three key concepts which can be summed up in a few simple terms; preservation, conservation, and habitat protection.
The modern environmental movement came into being in the late 19th and early 20th century. During this time-period these models where put forth by some of the most notable political figures and naturalist of the era. One of the most passionate individuals to put forth the idea of preservation of vast tracts of wilderness was John Muir. Muir was a naturalist and believed in preservation over conservation and was a champion for creation of many park systems throughout the western United States. The principle foundation of preservation is the belief that we are all part of the natural world and that the protection of our natural resources and environment is essential. Not only to protect the wonder and natural beauty of natural areas for future generations to enjoy, but to assure that man understands the mutual benefits he derives from National Parks. A great example of a modern National Park that is important for biodiversity and has its own intrinsic value is Sierra del Divisor Media in the Amazon Basin.
Conservation was another concept put forth during this era but differed significantly from the ideas of the preservationists of the time. Modern Conservationism is defined as managing the worlds natural resources in manner which results in the maximum benefit to mankind. Conservationism at its core is driven by the use, allocation and protection of the natural world to allow man to harvest these renewable resources in a sustainable way. Many park systems around the world have been created both for the protection of the natural beauty while allowing for harvesting of renewable natural resources they produce. The United States system of National Parks is chiefly predicated on conservation while other parks around the world were founded for the protection of the environment, associated wildlife, and inherent value.
Arguments abound between preservationists and conservationists with regards to the protection of important lands and species for the sake of biodiversity, natural beauty, sustainable harvesting of renewable resources, and tourism. Whether your own thinking leads you in the direction of one or the other of these concepts you can be assured the practice of setting aside land for National Park systems is critical to the overall health and well-being of our planet. Both models require that vast tracts of land be set aside that are large enough to assure that natural resources being protected sustain the biodiversity for the continuation of the ecosystem being protected. The idea of habitat protection for these reasons is a prevailing requirement in the creation of any National Park system.
One can think of habitat protection as a delicate balance between preservation and conservation. The balancing act between the competing interests of business, and the need to maintain a certain portion of the earth’s natural environment to maintain the overall health and wellbeing of the plants and animals living within its confines. The creation and protection of National Parks will continue to play a major role on how mankind relates to his natural environment.
The creation and maintenance of National Parks around the world should carefully consider the idea of “Land Ethic” promulgated by Aldo Leopold an important environmentalist of the 20th Century. As an environmentalist, he was deeply concerned about the speed and impact of the industrialization of the natural world and humans’ relationships with it. Mankind must learn to coexist with the natural world and continue to maintain a vigilance on the protection and use of the planets natural resources. One of the best ways we have do this is thru the creation of National Parks!