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Zou Tongqian, Chang Mengqian, Lai Mengli: International Experience of Management Models of National Culture Parks
来源:中国文化和旅游产业研究院 日期:2021-06-02 浏览次数: 字号:[ ]

Source: School of Economics at BFSU

Date: November 5th, 2019

(Initially published on the China Tourism News. Check:

During its 13th Five-year Plan period, China said that it was going to construct national culture parks for the first time and make them an important indicator of Chinese culture. The national park system worldwide has improved. For example, Asian countries represented by Japan and South Korea have formed a comprehensive management model; European countries such as Germany have built a local autonomous management model; North American nations like Canada have a top-down management model. These countries have all explored the management system, financial system and protection system. As an essential part of the national park system, national culture parks have the same management and financial systems as other types of national parks. Therefore, these explorations are a valuable source of experience for China to build and manage its national culture parks.

I. Asia: A Comprehensive Management Model

1. The Management System: Clear Subjects, Responsibilities and Power

Japan’s national culture parks with religion elements such as Nikkō National Park and those that symbolize the country’s national spirit like Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park provide inspiration for us to construct our own national culture parks. Under the management of a good national park system, how Japan’s management organizations have developed is clear: in 1927, an unofficial national park association was established, and two years later the National Park Commission of the Home Ministry was set up to promote top-down management. In 1948, an independent National Park Department was established by the Home Ministry. The National Park Bureau set up in 1964 marked the first organization dedicated to the management of national parks. In 1971 when management power was shifted from the Home Ministry and other organizations to the Environment Ministry, management changed from decentralized one to comprehensive one.

Another neighbor who shares our culture, South Korea, can provide lessons it has learnt from managing its historical national parks such as Gyeongju National Park. To manage the national park system more efficiently, the South Korean government established in 1986 that all types of national parks were directly managed by the state and that the Korea National Park Service was in charge of national park management. Since then, national parks have been managed completely by this organization. Because the Service managed every national park in the scope stipulated by law, and was independent from the influence of local governments, departments and enterprises, it realized efficient management in a short time.

China should follow the example of Japan and South Korea in establishing its national culture park system by improving related laws and ensuring the system is under unified and proper management.

2. The Financial System: Celebrate State Funding and Effective Distribution

The national park system in Japan and South Korea, which include culture parks, has a unified financial system.

In Japan, large government investment guarantees that national parks are not for profit. Departments managing national parks are banned from making plans on how to make money. To ensure the normal operation of national parks, money mainly comes from grants and local government s’ fundraising.

In South Korea, ample grants make the construction and development of national parks possible. Admission has been free since 2007. The government allocates 300 billion won (1.8 billion yuan) every year for the protection and management of 21 national parks (except Hallasan National Park) and increases the money by 0.1% annually. Besides, to deal with the problem that some land in national parks is privately owned, the South Korean government has allocated budget for land acquisition since 2006.

To avoid the imbalance between money invested and needed in the building of the national culture park system, China should prioritize the establishment of a unified, comprehensive and effective financial system for national parks, which has government as the main source of investment and the civil society as a supplemental one. We need to develop measures of fund management, such as where and how to use money, so that it can be used more efficiently and properly.

3. The Protection System: Stress the Effect of People and Engage the General Public

As the first Asian country to construct national parks, Japan began to protect its cultural heritage as early as earlier Meiji era in the 19th century.

Firstly, Japan proposed the concept of intangible cultural heritage. Under the 1950 Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, cultural heritage was innovatively divided between tangible and intangible one. Secondly, Japan focused on “enlivening” intangible cultural heritage and protecting it along the way. The Japanese government stressed the effect of people in the protection of cultural heritage. By building a registration system and a special system that protects inheritors, Japan could protect communities as the carrier of intangible cultural heritage. For example, in the influential rural and street transformation movement, the government paid special attention to people’s living standards and environmental protection in rural areas. Lastly, Japan strived to reach a consensus among the public to protect cultural heritage.

Learning from Japan’s advanced experience, China should stress the effect of people and protect key inheritors in the management of our national culture parks. We can set up a special fund to help build communities in national culture parks, or start tourist projects with local specialty to provide a livelihood for residents. Besides, we must keep educating communities to improve their understanding of national culture parks, so that they will take the initiative to protect and manage parks, the general public will reach a consensus on the protection of cultural heritage, and the era of agreed cultural self-consciousness would arrive.

II. Europe: A Local Autonomous Management Model

1. The Management System: Federal Guidance and Local Autonomy

Germany’s Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park has cultural relics and historical sites dating back to the time when the Celts were around. Its success offers lessons for China to build and manage its national culture parks. The management system of Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is an example of local autonomy: The park is guided by state environment ministry and managed by a dedicated state office. Local autonomy means that departments of local governments are responsible for all management affairs, including demarcation, the introduction of related management policies, laws and regulations, and planning, while the central government makes only macro policies and laws.

Germany is a federal republic, where federal legislative power is vested in the Bundestag (Parliament) and the Bundesrat (the representative body of states), with the latter responsible for management affairs of national parks. While the Bundestag sets out a framework of regulations as guidance, the Bundesrat passes specific laws and regulations for protection. The organizations that manage national parks are at three levels: the state ministry of the environment, local offices of national parks management, and district (municipal) offices of national parks management. Affiliated with and under the direct leadership of state, district or municipal parliaments, these organizations autonomously manage and operate national parks according to relevant laws and regulations. Though local autonomy takes into consideration that regional economic growth varies and thus manage parks accordingly, it risks to be useless and inefficient.

2. The Financial System: Mainly Supported By Government Grants, with Operating Earnings as a Supplement

The funding of Germany's national park system includes grants by state governments, public donations, and operating earnings from the use of tangible and intangible resources in parks, with government grants as the main source. Operating expenses of all national parks are arranged and regulated by state governments and are spent on construction and protection.

3. The Protection System: Return the Decision-making Right to the Public and Protect Authenticity

In France, Parc national des Cevennes, known for its landscapes of Mediterranean farming culture, is a distinctive national historical and culture park. The French government reformed the protection system of cultural heritage in parks to be de-nationalized through divestiture, autonomization, agency model, contracting-out model, volunteer model and multiple sources of funding. The protection of cultural heritage has gradually turned from a government affair to a public one. Hopefully, decision-making right of protection would be returned from elites to the general public.

In the reform of its national park system, France divided every national park into central and partnership zones, with the latter making overall management better: On the condition that core resources are sufficiently protected, the management of national parks should respect public will and invite communities to be partners, so as to preserve the integrity and authenticity of national parks. This model aims to maximize the protection of the integrity of eco-systems and is good for preserving the authenticity of indigenous people’s culture.

III. North America: A Top-down Management Model

1. The Management System: Follow the Model of Enterprises and Be Up-to-date

In Canada, the Kluane National Park and Reserve, comprising historical sites and heritage buildings, is a typical national culture park. Under the administration of Parks Canada, national parks have a top-down management system. Such system has a dedicated government agency to manage national parks, which is responsible for demarcation, the introduction of related laws and regulations, planning, and operation and management. It can set up departments of affairs and management offices of every park unit to implement plans. This management system is in place in Canada, the United States and other North American countries.

As one of the first countries to establish management agencies, Canada has kept its management philosophy, approaches and system up-to-date with the advance of technology. Canada believes that the modern enterprise has the most advanced management model, which motivates people. Therefore, Parks Canada follows the model in the management of national parks and protects it from man-made disturbances. It brings a CEO for every national park, values management posts and celebrates simplicity. Besides, it implements standardized management by demanding staff to wear their uniform and parks to distinguish themselves from others through unique logos, making management regulated and in order.

2. The Financial System: Government-supported and Efficient

The funding of Parks Canada and national parks mainly comes from federal grants and operating earnings of parks. Maintaining multiple sources of funding while receiving the larger proportion from grants helps to both improve efficiency and reduce dependence on government funds.

3. The Protection System: Strategic Guidance and Respect for Culture

In Canada, Gwaii Haanas National Park, home to indigenous Haida people, is a UNESCO World Heritage site under the management of Parks Canada and has an effective protection mechanism.

To ensure the sustainable development of all types of national parks, Parks Canada has made detailed development strategies and plans, such as Management Plans for National Parks and National Historic Sites, and Plans for Building a Digital Information System for National Parks.

Parks Canada keeps strengthening cultural protection even in national parks with communities and towns in them, and motivates stakeholders to commit themselves to protection. It pays special attention to the preservation and development of indigenous people’s culture by allowing Haida living in Gwaii Haanas National Park to govern themselves and demanding development plans to be discussed with Haida and subsidies to be given. Management offices of parks believe that tourism helps protection and that only by allowing citizens to visit national parks can they realize their beauty and have the awareness of protection, so that culture can be passed from generation to generation.

Building national parks is regarded as a visionary act. So far 200 countries and regions have already had their own national parks and formed a national culture park system with their own characteristics, which is an effective attempt to the protection of cultural heritage. The comprehensive management model, local autonomous management model and top-down management model seem to be different, but they do have similarities in functions of management offices, financial systems and protection system. This is experience China can learn from when planning for and establishing management models of its own national parks.


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