Unlike National Parks in countries such as America or Australia, which are largely uninhabited wildernesses, the land in UK National Parks is mainly privately owned and home to many communities.
The National Park Authority has the twin tasks of looking after what is special in the Park and helping people to enjoy and understand the character of the place. It is also responsible for a wide range of functions in its work to conserve and enhance the National Park.
We have various teams who are dedicated to providing the best service possible to the Park, the visitor and the resident.
The Authority owns and manages various popular attractions in the Park. Find out more about each through the links below:
We manage around 40 car parks and parking areas. We charge on ten of these and use the income to help us maintain car parks and any paths and beachheads in their proximity.
In many cases the car parks were created to help to protect nearby habitats. For example at Manorbier, before the car park was built, the cars parked on the sand dune areas. At St Govans, cars parked on the very top of the cliff and could be seen for miles along the coast as well as eroding valuable limestone grassland.
The National Park Authority car park at Newgale.
In the Gwaun Valley we own and manage around 250 hectares of woodland. Some was acquired to protect it from conversion from native oak wood to conifer plantation in the 1960s and some has been cleared of conifers and replanted with native species in the last ten years. Much of the area has been designated as a European Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in recognition of its value for nature conservation.
The Authority also leases much of the foreshore of the park from the Crown state. Around 200 miles of land between mean low and mean high water from Giltar Point to Poppit Sands is leased by the Authority.
To find out more have a look at our Land Management page.
We manage the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, the only National Trail managed entirely by a National Park Authority. Passing around the whole of the coast, the Trail gives an unparalleled experience of the National Park and a walk on the Coast Path should surely be part of any visit.
Because almost 99% of the park is privately owned, much of the public access is along footpaths and bridleways and the National Park manages around 500 miles of paths. The best way to explore these is to use the web-based circular walks. These paths have a higher priority for maintenance and provide a varied experience of the best of the National Park.
Walkers on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
The Preseli Hills, Carn Ingli and the St Davids commons are part of our Open Country where the walker has a right to explore off the paths. Even here however, the land is mainly privately owned and farmed so the right needs to be used with consideration. We have 5712 hectares of Access land which is made up of 4524 hectares of common land and 1188 hectares of open country made up mainly of moor and heath.
Other organisations’ roles
It’s important to stress that other organisations have an important role in managing land and facilities for the local community and the visitor.
Pembrokeshire County Council manages litter collection, beach safety, water quality and public toilets throughout Pembrokeshire and also manages the beach award system as well as the rights of way outside the Park.
We work closely with the National Trust who own almost 25% of the length of the coast in Pembrokeshire and manage the land for purposes closely allied to those of the National Park.
Another major landowner is the MOD (Ministry of Defence) and even though their land is primarily owned for military training, we work closely with them to ensure that conservation and access opportunities are maximised.