The benefits of national parks
Author: Michelle Prior, NPAQ President
Photography: Ryan Pockran
National parks are a national achievement and a cornerstone of a modern, enlightened society. Not only are Australia's parks famous worldwide and form part of our national identity, they provide an abundance of benefits. Reclaimed from the past as a legacy for the future, they are a fundamental aspect of life today.
National parks protect our natural heritage - a magnificent spectrum of spectacular landscapes and unique wildlife, while also contributing significantly to our personal health and well-being. They are a major drawcard in the annual $23 billion nature-based tourism industry and also provide valuable ecosystem services - protecting our water catchments and moderating our climate.
National parks have the most generous form of land tenure available, being publicly available to all. They attract millions of people each year. A simple walk in a protected forest has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve the immune system. National parks connect us to our country, our land. They contribute to bridging the gap between the traditional peoples and those who have come after. They provide a place of refuge from our fast-paced and often stressful lives; and are invaluable in counter-balancing the urban life.
National parks are the last bastion for conservation, and are critical to conserving our unique biodiversity and saving threatened species in decline. They protect the irreplaceable. National parks protect areas that are most critical in preventing extinctions of some the world's threatened mammals, birds and amphibians.
National parks protect nature's beauty and diversity. They can be places of pilgrimage, places of resounding silence or indescribable brilliance, places where we can feel an integral part of the natural world. Places where we re-create ourselves.
National parks also have another benefit. They show us that nature can be valued just for itself, quite separate from how it serves any end.