The State ensures that the exceptional natural heritage of the national Park is safeguarded by imposing conservation rules on the central zone. Furthermore, it expends substantial financial and human resources on meeting the challenges of protecting and sustainably developing the whole of the listed area.
The title of National Park is a prestigious, internationally recognised distinction that is awarded to a remarkable territory combined with a very demanding system of environmental management.
A universal heritage
There are national parks all over the world. Today, there are approximately 44,000 protected areas, which include 2,300 national parks. The first national park to be created, in 1871, was Yellowstone National Park in the United States. France’s first National Park was the Vanoise National Park, created in 1960.
The Cévennes National Park is ten years younger: it was created on 2 September 1970. It is the only French National Park in the uplands and the only one to have a central zone that is entirely inhabited and farmed. This requires special operational rules: here, human activities are directly involved in achieving the objective of environmental protection.
France's nine national parks
France’s nine National Parks – six in mainland France and three overseas – are as significant to the nation’s cultural identity as the most prestigious cultural sites. They contain varied landscapes and seascapes, and represent nearly 8% of French territory (48,720 km2). Every year they attract more than seven million visitors.
National Parks in France
The organisation Parcs Nationaux de France, brought into being by the National Park Reform Act of 14 April 2006, is intended to create links between the various state-owned companies running individual National Parks to strengthen their shared identity. Its mission is to help them excel at the national and international level. It also helps to improve their management by providing technical and administrative assistance. Finally, it encourages them to coordinate their actions and communications.
Parcs Nationaux de France is a state-owned administrative company under the supervision of the Ministry responsible for the environment.