The international politics of national parks

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National parks are the keystone institutions of environmental conservation. Because national parks make certain lands part of the state itself, international agencies and nongovernmental organizations that promote national parks propose, in effect, to alter the state, as well as the local economy and state relations with social groups. Has international political pressure caused states to create national parks? I consider whether countries highly involved in international politics have the largest proportions of land in national parks. I conclude that many states create minimal park systems as symbolic gestures to the international community. Field researchers may find it easier to explain the success or failure of parks if they identity why state officials decide that adopting international conservation norms will enhance state authority over people and state sovereignty over land.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-539
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Development
  • Environment
  • National parks
  • State policy


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