Celebrate national parks on World Parks Day

By William Hall 7 November 2013
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Saturday, 17 September is World Parks Day, so get outside and enjoy some of Australia’s amazing national parks.

NEXT TIME YOU GO to your local state or national park, think about why you’re there. It’s likely you visit because you value its conservation. Because most of the world’s modern population lives in cities, people often only form a connection to the natural environment through national parks – they’re not just important for animals, but for people too.

If national parks didn’t have visitors who were reminded about how special these place are, then there would be less support for them and the animals that inhabit them.

It’s with this in mind that Parks Australia in conjunction with Parks For Life have dubbed Saturday, 17 September as World Parks Day. The event will encourage people from around the world, to get actively involved by creating or joining an event aimed at celebrating our parks and green spaces.

CEO of Parks Forum, David Clarke, knows how important it is to conserve the species of plant and animal life in our environment. He says, however, that “one of the things we have not communicated well enough is how important healthy parks are to sustaining healthy human communities as well”.

National parks help our health

According to a study from Chicago in the US, humans (taking into account demographics and social statuses) living in close proximity to green environments, compared with those who live far away, better off. The research suggested, ‘greener’ environments help people recover from surgery faster, improve immune system functioning, and improve functional health status.

By contrast, those with less access to green environments are shown to develop more diseases and have higher rates of mortality in younger and older adults.

Parks pay a critical role in contributing to mental and physical health, David says. “There are a raft of new studies which point to the liveability of cities and the quality of life of people being significantly impacted by the their access to parks and green space. Given the amount of social and community activity which goes on in parks, they’re also critical to community development and social cohesion.”

Anyone can get involved or even start an event on World Parks Day – throw a small party/picnic, pick up rubbish, offer free yoga classes, hand out plant seeds, organise a hike – just as long as you’re enjoying our parks.

World Heritage sites in Australia

Australia has one of the largest and greatest national park systems in the world, covering over 24 million hectares.

With lush rainforests, red-sandy deserts, and a bustling marine culture, we have 18 World Heritage sites listed by the World Heritage Committee that must be protected.

“With so much population growth in Australia and New Zealand’s capital cities, we need more consistency in planning for parks and green spaces; it’s critical to protect existing parks…” David says.