Increasingly, humans are beginning to see the need to protect areas of special significance for their wildlife, plants, forests and sheer natural beauty. This protection should ensure that future generations are able to experience the wonder and awe of some of Earth’s most incredible landscapes.
#1 Yellowstone National Park
This huge, almost 3,500 sq. mile natural park sits on top of a dormant volcano and spreads from Wyoming to Idaho. It’s a fascinatingly diverse wilderness containing deep canyons, lush forests, the world’s largest number of geysers and acts as a habitat for a whole host of wildlife including bears and wolves. Breathtaking views and an awesome display of a volcano’s hidden powers!
#2 Banff, Canada
Banff National Park is the oldest in Canada and includes the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Visit the snowy peaks, gaze in awe at the glass-green waters of Lake Louise and take time to appreciate the stunning views of this sometimes harsh, glacial wilderness. Banff offers the perfect getaway for birdwatching, hiking, water sports, fishing and climbing.
#3 Galapagos Islands
This archipelago in Ecuador offers the chance to see wildlife that appears nowhere else on Earth. This is where Charles Darwin was inspired with the Theory of Evolution, and it might make you see the world differently too. A unique region of incredible biodiversity where human influence is kept to a bare minimum and the entire territory is protected under UNESCO World Heritage status. The lands and waters became National Parks in 1959.
#4 Bialowieza National Park
The importance of this park is that it is the last and biggest expanse of remaining primeval forest that once covered the entire European plain. Situated in Poland, there is also a large population of European Bison who live here. Some of the trees here have been growing for more than 500 years and the area has been strongly protected from as early as 1921, making it one of the oldest in the world.
#5 Atsinanana, Madagascar
The rainforests of Atsinanana are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are found within six national parks in eastern Madagascar. The rainforests protect the unique biodiversity found here, where plants and animals evolved in isolation after splitting off from other land masses 60 million years ago. The lemurs and primates found here are considered endangered, and other rare species that call the rainforest home need protection too.
#6 Northeast Greenland National Park
The largest protected land mass on Earth and the most northerly, some spectacular and dramatic scenery can be found here. Most of the park contains the Greenland Ice Sheet with such wildlife as polar bears, walrus, artic foxes, seals, narwhals and whales. There is no permanent human population other than military bases, weather and research stations.
#7 Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Park
Considered a National Monument, it covers 583,000 sq. miles of ocean and 10 islands of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It is one of the biggest protected marine areas in the world and was created to safeguard significant natural and cultural sites. Amazing coral reefs, green turtles, endangered monk seals and 14 million birds call this region home.
#8 Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Off the coast of Queensland, there lies the largest living thing on Earth. This splendid ecosystem runs for 2,300 km and consists of thousands of reefs and habitats for a colossal amount of species. Its been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981 and astounds divers with its breathtaking importance and beauty. This is a must-see wonder of the world that should be on your bucket list.
#9 Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
An incredibly vital protected area of Africa famed for its annual migration of wildebeest and zebra and home to the Maasai Mara. The array of wildlife here is truly amazing and many people dream of going on an African Safari adventure to witness lions, cheetahs, buffalo, rhino, antelope and gazelles. Monkeys, baboons, hyenas and ostrich – the list is endless and because of this, the Serengeti has Grade II listed UNESCO status.
#10 Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Japan
This is where you’ll find the magnificent Mount Fuji, towering in the distance over the Tokyo Metropolis. The park joins together various tourist spots and includes natural features such as lakes, mountains, coastal areas and hot springs. Must-see areas include Shiraito Falls, the Jogasaki Coast and Ashni-no-ko Lake. The Izu islands are the perfect spot for diving and experience a sub-tropical climate whereas the area around Mount Fuji and the five lakes offer a cooler, more wooded environment.