Who looks after national parks?

National Parks are large areas of land, including towns and villages, which means that lots of people and organisations help to look after them.

This page explains how National Park Authorities are made of Members, staff and volunteers, and how they work with other organisations to help look after National Parks.

National Park Authorities

Headquarters of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority.

Each National Park is looked after by an organisation called a National Park Authority, which includes Members, staff and volunteers.


National Park Authorities have between 10 and 30 Members and one Chairman (called a Convenor in Scotland) who represents them. The members take advice from staff and make decisions about what the National Park Authority should do. Members do not work for the National Park Authority full time, and do not get paid.

Most of the members come from local and parish councils within the National Park. Some members are appointed by government because they have specialist knowledge and experience in areas like the environment or rural communities. Members normally live in or very close to the National Park so they are local people.


A Ranger helping visitors in Exmoor National Park.

Each National Park Authority employs between 50 to 200 members of paid staff. The majority of staff work in the National Park Headquarters but some staff work in offices, fieldwork stations and visitor centers in different locations throughout the Parks.


Some National Parks have hundreds of volunteers. People like to volunteer for National Parks because they get to be outside in beautiful countryside, mix with other people, keep fit and know that they are helping to look after National Park landscapes. Our volunteers do lots of different jobs, like leading guided walks, fixing fences, dry stone walling, checking historic sites and surveying wildlife.

Volunteers don’t get paid, but National Park Authorities could not achieve what they need to do without them.

Other organisations

There are lots of organisations who work to protect natural and cultural heritage and many of them own land within National Parks. The National Trust and the Forestry Commission own large areas of moorlands and woodlands. Other organisations like the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust, English Heritage and Historic Scotland own nature reservers and historic sites within National Parks.

National Park Authorities work with these and many other organisations to look after the landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage within National Parks.

The National Park Management Plan

Every National Park Authority is legally made to produce a National Park Management Plan. This document sets out a five year plan for the National Park.

Local communities, landowners and other organisations are asked for their opinions and help in achieving the plan. It sets out what the National Park Authority hopes to do and what other organisations who work in the National Park will do. At the end of five years, a new plan is made.

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