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Evolving Values and How They Have Shaped the United States National Park System

Abstract

As one of the oldest and best-known park systems, the US National Park System continues to influence park systems around the world. However, the origins and wide diversity of US national parks are often not fully understood as there is a long-lived misconception that the large western parks represent the entirety of the US National Park System. In fact, the establishment of the first US national parks was heavily influenced by large 19th-century picturesque urban parks that provided benefits to the public and society. The foundational concept of national parks serving a public purpose has never changed, however, the types of landscapes selected as national parks have changed as societal values have evolved and now the system provides public benefits beyond those originally envisioned. This paper examines the development of the US National Park System, emphasising the evolution of landscape values. The emergence of the cultural landscape concept illustrates the evolution of landscape values from their early antecedents in the late 19th century to their contributions to innovative conservation strategies today. Throughout the development of the US National Park System, international exchange has and continues to play a pivotal role, advancing the inter-linkages of culture and nature for the most effective conservation.

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Correspondence to Cari Goetcheus.

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Goetcheus, C., Mitchell, N.J. & Barrett, B. Evolving Values and How They Have Shaped the United States National Park System. Built Heritage 2, 27–38 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03545708

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Keywords

  • US National Park Service
  • US National Park System
  • cultural landscape
  • landscape values
  • interlinkages of culture-nature