[Coral-List] Help -- Origin of of the term "Paper Parks"

Dan Brumbaugh dbrumbaugh at amnh.org
Wed Oct 29 18:24:42 EDT 2014

Hi Gregor and listers,

Using Google's Ngram search of "paper parks" (without quotations) from 
scanned Google Books, one gets sporadic hits that start around 1872. 
More recently, the phrase starts to be used in 1963 with growth 
especially after 1973. Although early incidence certainly isn't a direct 
measure of the phrase's influence, it is interesting to see how far back 
the meaning goes relatively unchanged.

For example, further Google searching turned up, from a 1876 source 
documenting the proceedings of a Boston public meeting  (Parks for the 
People: Proceedings of a Public Meeting Held at Faneuil Hall, June 7, 
1876. Franklin Press, Boston, Mass., USA)

"Well after six years of restlessness, at last we went before the 
legislature again; and we got an act passed, authorizing the appointing 
of commissioners with powers. That act passed, helped by our most able 
fellow citizen, Mr. Ropes, chairman of this meeting; and it was 
submitted to the votes of the people of Boston; and the park project was 
carried by the votes of this entire population, – Boston, East Boston, 
Charlestown, South Boston, Dorchester, Brighton, which make, all 
together a very large and most decisive majority. And therefore, 
gentlemen, the question is not, Shall we have parks? you have decided 
that; but the question is, Whether, having determined to have them, we 
shall rest content with saying so? whether we will have our paper parks, 
as we have our paper money, with nothing to rest upon [laughter], or 
whether we shall have genuine parks, with life and trees, and have 
sheets of water? Now we are here to-nightt to say it is the latter that 
we want [Applause.]



Dan Brumbaugh

> Peter < now I am curiousS.. In your recent post you attributed the term
> paper parks to: "When Graeme Kelleher first coined the term 'paper park' in
> approx 1990, some 90% of MPAs were effectively unprotected." Your post
> raised the question of  who really coined this helpful termS.
> My 1990 presentation on "paper parks" focusing on marine protected areas was
> published in an obscure location so it is not surprising no one heard of
> itS.
> Hodgson, G. (1992) An alternative to paper parks. In Proceedings of the
> International Conference on Conservation of Tropical Biodiversity, Kuala
> Lumpur 12-16 June, 1990, eds. S. K. Yap and S. W. Lee, pp. 158-165. Malayan
> Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur.
> But knowing how the world really works i.e. all things terrestrial go first
> -- I assumed there must be a prior reference to paper parks to these, and a
> quick search revealed that the brilliant Norman Myers referred to "paper
> parks" in his address at his alma mater UC Berkeley on May 1, 1986. I'm
> guessing I heard the term from him about that time.
> http://nature.berkeley.edu/site/lectures/albright/1986.php
> But perhaps some coral lister who used the term earlier or an enterprising
> grad student with more refined search skills than I can figure out who
> really coined the term "paper parks" with reference to terrestrial (one
> would think the late 1970s?) and marine parks. Then we can correctly credit
> this common sense and useful term. There are lots of incorrect attributions
> online.
> Gregor Hodgson
> Reefcheck.org
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