Due to its unique natural features, magnificent forests andextraordinary geomorphologic structures, the area of Velika and Mala Paklenica was proclaimed a national park in 1928 (pursuant to the Financial Act of Yugoslavia). As that provision was not renewed, 1949 is considered to be the actual year of proclamation, when the Decree and the Act on Proclamation of Paklenica Forest a National Park were passed. The Act stated that “Paklenica forest with parts of the canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica are proclaimed a national park, as areas of exceptional beauty and scientific value”. The main reason for proclaiming this area a national park was the protection of the largest and best preserved forest complex in the territory of Dalmatia, which was threatened by overexploitation. Independent Park Administration was founded in 1954, initially with headquarters in Zadar and since 1956 in Starigrad – Paklenica. First borders of the Park were determined in 1956 and they covered the area of 36 km2.
Following the proposal made by the participants of the scientific conference marking the 45th anniversary of Paklenica National Park, an initiative to expand its borders was launched in order to better protect biodiversity and cultural heritage. That proposal was soon accepted and on January 24, 1997 the Act on Amendments to the Act on Proclamation of Paklenica Forest a National Park (Official Gazette No. 15/97) was adopted. Pursuant to that Act, the Park’s borders were changed and expanded to cover the territory between Velika and Mala Paklenica, area near Golovrh and Bojinac and the top part of the Southern Velebit ridge. Within its new borders the Park covers the area of 95 km2.