According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Earth has already lost 0.01% of total species on planet Earth. This margin seems minuscule, till you realise that it represents 10,000 species. Many precautionary measures have been taken in order to protect our wildlife, one of which is to specify areas which will be used only for the purpose of conservation of fauna and flora.
These designated areas (land or sea) are called National Parks and characterised as ‘Category II’ type protected area by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Many countries have designated land and water masses as part of conservation programs in order to protect the environment. Following are the 10 largest national parks in the world in 2018.
Table of Page Contents
- 10. Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA)
- 9. Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area
- 8. Northern Greenland National Park
- 7. National Park of the Coral Sea
- 6. Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
- 5. Kluane National Park and Reserve (22,013 sq km)
- 4. Quttinirpaaq National Park (37,775 sq km)
- 3. Wood Buffalo National Park (44,807 sq km)
- 2. Namib-Naukluft National Park (49, 768 sq km)
- 1. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (345,000 sq km)
10. Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA)
Established in January 2008, this marine protected archipelago is one of the largest in the world, with an area of 408,250 sq km. It is home to about 514 species of reef fish and 19 species of seabirds, with new species popping every now and then. It is also the first marine protected area to have regions of deepwater habitat, much of which still remains unexplored.
9. Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area
This National Park was made with an ulterior motive, of creating a bond with the neighbouring countries. Known as a Peace Park, the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, established in 2011, lies at the common boundary of five nations, namely Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The large area of 444,500 sq km will not come as a surprise to you once you realise that it actually is an assembly of national parks and reserves spread across the five countries. The key wildlife includes cheetahs, wild dogs, wattled crane, African Elephant and Nile crocodile. The last two are included in the Red Book of endangered species.
8. Northern Greenland National Park
Covering the northeastern region of Greenland, at 972,001 sq km, it is the largest protected land mass. It was established on 22nd May 1974 and has a landmass bigger than 29 countries. The low human foot traffic makes this protected area ideal for scientists to study the conditions our planet must have had during the early stages of life. Its habitat includes Polar Bears, Arctic fox, Walrus, Arctic Hare and 40% of the world population of MushOxen. A variety of seal species and birds are also found here.
7. National Park of the Coral Sea
Located in New Caledonia, a collectivity of France, this protective area (land and sea) is spread over 1,292,967 sq km and is a sanctuary for the multiple species of the most ruthless predator – sharks. They are also frequented by numerous species of whales and turtles. The 3rd largest population of Dugong, the last marine herbivores mammal, is here. This national park three times the size of Germany is also a source of income for the locals in the form of tourism and fisheries.
6. Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
The largest national park, with an area of 1,510,000 sq km, is collectively present in the states of Honolulu County, Hawaii and US minor outlying Islands. Established on 15 June 2006, it is primarily a marine protective sanctuary. The need for a sanctuary came when there was a drop in lobster population in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It houses more than 7000 species. It also houses many turtle and bird species. This protected area also holds cosmological and traditional significance to Hawaiian local culture.
5. Kluane National Park and Reserve (22,013 sq km)
Established in 1972, on the southwestern territory of Yukon, Canada you can find this national park whose terrain is dominated by mountains and glaciers. It is open to the public who can engage themselves in activities like hiking, mountain biking, and regulated fishing. The park contains the largest mountain in Canada, Mount Logan. Its key wildlife involves wolf packs, coyote, mink (endangered), lynx, moose, river otter and red fox. It also houses the majestic Golden and Bald eagle. Aquatic life includes trout, arctic grayling, and salmon. Kluane National Park was given the world heritage site status in 1979.
4. Quttinirpaaq National Park (37,775 sq km)
Established in 1988, the second most northerly park (after Northern Greenland National Park) is a polar desert. Located in the northeastern corner of Ellesmere Island, Nananut, Canada this national park’s geography is dominated by rock and ice. The key wildlife includes Arctic hare, Peary caribou, Narwahls, Lemmings, Varying species of Seals, Walruses, Muskoxen, Arctic wolves, Polar Bears. Due to a minimum to no human presence, this national park is an untouched haven for the wildlife.
3. Wood Buffalo National Park (44,807 sq km)
Yet another Canadian entry on this list, it is the largest national park in Canada. Established in 1922, this protected area is one of the two nesting sites of the endangered Whooping cranes. As the name suggests, the primary reason for the establishment of this national park was to protect the herd of free roaming Wood Bison, now a population of 5500. Peace-Athabasca Delta, world’s largest freshwater delta, can be found here. Key wildlife also includes moose, bison, great gray owls, black bears, spotted owls, wolves, lynxes, bald eagles, wolverines and peregrine falcon (fastest predatory bird). It has also been given UNESCO’s world heritage site status.
2. Namib-Naukluft National Park (49, 768 sq km)
Found in Namibia, this national park was established on 1st August 1979 and governed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. It encompasses part of the Namib Desert, which is considered world’s oldest desert, and the Naukluft mountain range. This diverse geographic layout makes it ideal for different types of creatures. Fog from the Arctic Ocean is the primary source of moisture as it sees little rain during the months from February to March. The same breeze which carries the fog also forms the massive sand dunes in this region. This area was first formed during Colonial Germany when it was used as a game reserve. Its key wildlife includes snakes, geckos, hyenas and jackals.
1. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (345,000 sq km)
This is the most famous national parks known in the world. Found on the northeastern coast of Australia, this is an unbelievably huge coral reef ecosystem in the world. It was established in 1975 and is governed by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Being one of the largest protective water bodies, most of the wildlife here is migratory so the authorities have to take into account several plans. It also includes an archipelago of islands, and the key wildlife here are several species of corals, bony fish, sharks, ray, marine mammals and turtles, sea snakes and many aquatic plant species.
The importance of such endeavours to protect the ecosystem is important and in recent times the governing bodies have made their best effort to make it possible. The knowledge of these species and how we can protect their habitat only comes from extensive research, which these national parks provide. It is time for people to put both minds and resources together, to protect all that humans have left so that the future generations could enjoy and bask in the beauty of majestic creatures, and not just hear about them from books.