||Establishing and managing protected areas throughout the world usually have been considered a governmental function. However, recent conservative political thinking in many developed countries has challenged the role of the public sector on all fronts. In Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States, government has been seen as a problem, while private enterprise is presented as the solution. Advocates of privatization argue that park services can be provided more efficiently under private management, and that the areas themselves will be better protected for future generations. Unfortunately, such a policy can foster elitism by preserving the benefits of parks and protected areas for the wealthy while ignoring the growing social inequality in many of these countries. In this paper, I examine the concepts that underlie privatization efforts, particularly economic efficiency. I suggest that there is a need to examine the different functions that parks and protected areas serve, and to ask if each function helps to differentiate between public and private. I argue that, in the final analysis, equality of access is the primary function of public-sector management of parks and that we need to examine our policies and practices to ensure that park benefits are distributed fairly throughout society.