The Great National Parks of the World
Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle
ASKED to name just one National Park and chances are the answer would be Yellowstone, Denali, Serengeti and Masai Mara or even Ngorongoro – names synonymous with wilderness and wildlife.
That we’d be talking North America and Africa would probably come as no surprise. Yet there are, in fact, a vast number of National Parks worldwide, including our very own Lake District.
So, what exactly is a National Park? As Ilaria S. Guaraldi Vinassa De Regny explains in the introduction to The Great National Parks of the World, it’s a protected area – whether for a rare geological phenominon (Hawaii’s Volcanoes NP, for instance); an animal species that risks extinction (of which the tigers of Ranthambore are just one example); or just simply an exceptionally beautiful place (take Iguazu with its breathtaking falls).
But it’s more than that even. A National Park is a mini ecosystem within the earth’s great ecosystem, where ‘nothing exists independently of the rest’. Yet more importantly perhaps, protection also means management, enjoyment and restoration.
And, in visiting 52 such places, The Great National Parks of the World illustrates exactly that.
Divided into chapters, each one dedicated to a specific continent or geographic area – South America and the South Seas are just two – it provides a wealth of information, supported by beautiful images and maps that pinpoint the individual locations.
But is Yellowstone included? It was, of course, the world’s first National Park (established in 1872) and within its boundaries – all 3,472 square- miles – is the world’s largest concentration of geysers, hot springs and fumaroles.
It also supports a rich diversity of wildlife – bison, deer, black and grizzly bears, moose – the list is endless; and it’s incredibly beautiful to boot. So, what do you think?
There is, unfortunately, no way of knowing whether the photographs are digitally enhanced which is a pity. But given the sincerity of the contributors – all science graduates – in championing the cause of conservation, I’m tempted to say it doesn’t much matter anyway – providing that’s as far as it goes.
The Great National Parks of the World is undoubtedly a beautiful book. So, whether it’s a trip down memory lane or a spot of armchair travelling you’re after or simply that you enjoy nature at its very best, it won’t disappoint. And if, in some small way, it increases awareness of the importance of these ecosystems, so much the better.
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