Editor’s Note: If you're a regular reader of this column, you know I emphasize park news. But since travel is a big focus at the Traveler, I’m going to start featuring selected articles in other media that offer coverage of travel opportunities at parks outside the United States. Besides touting the stories' topics, I’ll of course link to the great reporting of the original article.
National Park Appeal in UK Hits Home Buyers’ Wallets
Stories popped up all over the media in the United Kingdom yesterday announcing what many people would expect—living within the boundaries of a national park in Britain, Scotland and Wales comes at a premium.
A study by Lloyds TSB cited in many articles circulated by the Press Association, Ltd. said, “Home buyers face paying a premium of around £90,000 to live in the spectacular surroundings of the country's National Parks. The typical premium paid by buyers in the 12 National Parks studied is 55% higher than it was 10 years ago, when it stood at around £56,626.”
That research found that the average home “in a National Park costs more than 10 times annual earnings at £365,259, up from just over seven times local wages a decade ago.”
The story in the Halifax Courier quoted Suren Thiru, housing economist at Lloyds TSB, saying, "The quality of life benefits associated with living in some of the country's most scenic destinations resonate strongly among many homebuyers. Such destinations are also popular with those looking for a second property. As a result, properties in National Parks typically trade at a significant premium to homes in neighbouring areas.”
“The downside of high property prices is that homes are often difficult to afford for those living and working in such locations,” Thiru said, “a situation that has got worse over the past decade as prices have risen sharply."
The study said, “Yorkshire Dales has the sixth biggest premium in percentage terms (47%), equating to an increase of £90,471,” and “North York Moors tended to have a smaller hike compared with the local area, with buyers paying a margin of 11% or £23,331 more to live there.”
The research used Land Registry sales records from 2011 and data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and “found that house prices are £87,968 or 45% higher on average in England and Wales's National Parks than the typical price paid in their county.”
The difference between the United Kingdom and the United States is that park boundaries are broadly drawn in the UK (and in Canada; Banff and Jasper are examples) and include many towns and private land areas. Typically national parks in the United States are comprised of property owned by the federal government.
The story is the same in Wales, according to an article in Wales Online by Robin Turner “House prices in Wales’ three National Parks have increased by 101% in a decade.”
Snowdonia National Park, which includes the UK’s highest mountain (excluding Scotland’s Ben Nevis) “has experienced the highest percentage increase of any National Park in England and Wales, with the price of homes rising by 111% since 2012,” according to the Lloyds TSB data.
Turner’s article explored demographic trends near parks in Wales that also affect the appeal of living in or near national parks in many parts of the world.
Turner wrote that, “Tim Goodwin, director of North Wales-based estate agents Williams and Goodwin The Property People, said he was not surprised to see house prices in Snowdonia on the rise. ‘The area is of course extremely beautiful and gets lots of publicity so the demand is there. But because of stricter National Park planning regulations and the sheer topography of the place the supply of homes is not as great, so you have a recipe for price rises.’”
Goodwin said, “a broad mix of people are attracted to Snowdonia, from mountaineers to 'returners' who grew up in the area and want to return after making money elsewhere.”
Despite the steep rises, Turner says, “Snowdonia is still the most affordable National Park in England and Wales, with an average house price of £167,773.”
Mediterranean National Parks Are Accessible and Diverse
This is prime time for many people to take Mediterranean cruises and a lot of those leave and return to Nice and other ports in the south of France. Don’t forget the great parks in that area if you have some time before or after your cruise.
A great overview article in the English-language Riviera Times features three of those found in the “Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur (PACA) region - including the Parc National des Calanques established in April this year.”
I featured the new Calanques park, a beautiful area of craggy inlets in the south of France. But the Riviera Times adds two parks to that, including Port Cros National Park, the smallest of the three Iles d'Or (golden islands) in the bay of Hyères, and “the wild world of the Mercantour, ... an hour's drive from the beaches, boutiques and luxury hotels of the coast” where “Craggy mountains, green meadows, crystal-clear lakes and rare plants await visitors in the north of the Alpes Maritimes department.”
The Mercantour National Park centers on “Mont Bégo (2,872 metres), which was worshipped by local herdsmen as a holy mountain.”
Check out this article by Hannelore Salinger, Anne Morris, Peter Hacker—it features all three parks.
Canada’s National Parks Feature “First Nations” Culture
National parks aren’t just national parks in Canada. Many actually reverse the earlier decision to keep Native peoples out of parks and embrace not only their presence but the role of their land use in the culture of the area and ecosystems of the parks. It is possible to enjoy national park scenery at the same time you’re getting a close encounter with Native people, what Canadians call “First Nations” people.
"In the past few decades,” says Alan Latourelle, the chief executive officer of Parks Canada, “we have strived to build meaningful relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to ensure a more holistic stewardship of the land that includes the cultural values and knowledge of its people."
In a great article written for the Indian Country Today Media Network, Hans Tammemagi explores the creation of that policy and features the top five Canadian Parks where First Nations culture is front-and-center.
One of those is Gwaii Haanas, off the coast of British Columbia and in 2005 voted the best national park in North America by readers of National Geographic Traveler. The park “is jointly managed by the Haida First Nation and Parks Canada, and the park superintendent is Haida. The Haida history on these islands can be traced back 10,000 years.”
Check out the article, which ran last week in The Tyee, an online magazine in British Columbia. Besides Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, British Columbia, other parks covered include Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario, Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, Northwest Territories and Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador.