As the term "national park" is not trademarked, yet always aims to establish certain rules and norms in order to give special protection to nature, national parks world-wide are structured very differently in terms of these rules and norms. It's for this very reason that the Hohe Tauern National Park has always strived to obtain international legitimacy from the committees of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN in short.
The aim of the IUCN is to bring "order and clarity" to the entity of nature reserves, at which the organisationhas succeeded in establishing a monopoly for itself when it comes to this issue. Members of the IUCN come from environmental protection organisations, governments and member states. The organisation formed six categories for protected areas, Strict Nature Reserve/Wilderness Area, National Park, Natural Monument or Feature, Habitat/Species Management Area, Protected Landscape/ Seascape and Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources.
At first, the attempt at obtaining such recognition ran into scepticism and criticism by the population, as they feared that unpredictable forces would now make decisions and that they would lose their status of sovereignty.
But the benefits of recognition by the IUCN outweigh any drawbacks, such as being admitted to the "family of large national parks", gaining international recognition and the marketing strategic advantages that come with this.
The Carinthian section of the Hohe Tauern National Park was the first national park in Austria to get the distinction from the IUCN in 2001. The other national parks had to wait for another five years.
On 15 September 2006, IUCN chairman Nik Lopoukhine handed over the official certificate to the Hohe Tauern National Park, something many people are still proud of to this day.