National Parks

National Parks

Apr 24, 2017

National Parks that are contributing to biodiversity loss and climate change

The concept of national parks originated with Yellowstone formed in 1872. Set aside for public benefit and use, national parks were intended to be preserved in a primeval condition for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration by people for all time. Since their inception in the United States, the concept has spread to many countries, thankfully preventing valued landscapes from development.

As a young biologist in Africa I was privileged to be involved in the management of truly wonderful areas being set aside as future national parks. I believed, and still do, in this ideal. I know I speak for most people who love wildlife, nature and wild places who also share this ideal, but how is it working out in practice? National parks are based on society’s belief that that preservation – essentially leaving things to nature – over large tracts of the land, as well as in seas or oceans, preserves biodiversity in a healthy ecosystem or environment. We believe this is our best known way to ensure pockets of high and pristine biodiversity in all environments. As I said in my TED Talk on global desertification, we were once certain that the world was flat. We were wrong then and we are wrong again. And once more I find this is the case – contrary to our deep beliefs, some national parks are proving to be destructive.

Once more, reality on the ground flies in the face of beliefs. So some explanation is in order because this involves not only the preservation of the animals l love, but ultimately also Homo sapiens, our own species

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