Living Parks: 100 Years of National Parks in Europe

Bill Halainen, World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Commission member, and  Communications officer of the International Rangers Federation, reviews the new book ‘Living Parks: 100 Years of National Parks in Europe’ from IUCN Member, EUROPARC Federation. The paperback celebrates Europe’s natural heritage and explains why protected areas are so important. Amongst other things it also explores the abundant flora and fauna in the first national parks in 36 European countries making the book the perfect gift during the official International Year of Biodiversity.


“The EUROPARC Federation has just published a fine, short overview of the national parks of Europe – or, more accurately, of the first parks established in each nation. Each country entry contains brief overviews of each nation’s system of parks.

As the title suggests, the book marks the centenary of parks in Europe, from the first parks established in Sweden in 1909 to the most recent in Denmark in 2008. It provides an excellent introduction to both the parks and the extraordinary range of ecosystems that they protect.

The authors and editors have done an admirable job in keeping the text concise and focused. Following a short introduction and map showing the location of each nation’s first park, there are presentations on each original park in chronological order including a brief summary of each parks history and the rationale for its creation, details on the natural and cultural assets that it protects. Each pair of pages also has fine images of the park being presented.

This is a first-rate introductory guide to Europe’s more than 300 parks. The book strongly underscores the importance of these protected areas, which are, as EUROPARC director Carol Ritchie reminds us in her introduction, “all that remains of the once vast natural treasures of European society…”. She aptly cites the Latin maxim of Scottish biologist and philosopher Patrick Geddes on their importance both now and in the future: “Microcosmos naturae, sedes hominium, theatrum historiae, eutopia futuris” – “The microcosm of nature, the home of man, the theatre of history, the good place of the future.”

If you can get through this book without wanting to immediately check with your travel agent on arrangements for getting to any number of these parks, you have more willpower than this reviewer.
See you in Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy, or maybe Thingvellir National Park in Iceland, or maybe Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park in Finland, or maybe…”

For more information see the EUROPARC Federation website.  

You can purchase a copy of the book for 14.90 € from the Oekom Verlag , from and

The EUROPARC Federation ( is committed to the protection and promotion of Europe’s protected areas and all they offer. They are the foremost and largest NGO representing European protected areas, uniting national parks, regional parks, nature parks and biosphere reserves in 39 countries, with the common aim of conserving Europe's unique variety of wildlife, habitats and landscapes.

The EUROPARC Federation has been a Member of IUCN since 1985.


Work area: 
Protected Areas
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