Evaluating the ecological security of ecotourism in protected area based on the DPSIR model

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Ecological Indicators


Evaluating the ecological security of ecotourism (EES) in protected areas is critical because these areas play a vital role in protecting biodiversity and natural resources. This study evaluated the EES status of Central Alborz Protected Area (Northern Iran), based on a Driver, Pressure, State, Impact, and Response (DPSIR) model. We developed a comprehensive list of 59 indicators for the DPSIR model and employed an Analytical Network Process (ANP) model to determine indicator weights harnessing the opinion of experts on which indicators are most influential. This approach facilitated the identification of regions with the highest EES vulnerability, notably in the northern and western sectors of our study area along the boundary between Tehran and Mazandaran provinces. Here, the mechanisms that drive EES change the most include ecotourism activities, livestock overgrazing, and uncontrolled physical and economic activities, along with extensive road and highway development, and land use and land cover changes. Indicators that are most effective for determining the EES status, include physical and economic activities. We conclude by discussing indicators to respond to the increasing threat to EES in Protected Areas such as the involvement of government in strategic integrated management. Our study serves as a methodological blueprint on how to evaluate the EES of Protected Areas.

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