Scenario-Based Capability Evaluation of Nature-Based Tourism Using MCE-Based Innovative Approach

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Department of Water Sciences and Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, Kashmar Higher Education Institute, Kashmar, Iran

2 Faculty of Fisheries and Environmental Sciences, Gorgan University of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran

3 Faculty of Natural Resources, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran


Increasing demand and the use of recreational areas have exacerbated the effects of nature-based tourism (NBT) on the environment. Assessment of NBT potential can be an approach to identify suitable areas for recreational development and prevent its development in areas without this capability. This not only reduces the environmental impacts of NBT but also ensures its sustainability. This study applied a multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) approach using the weighted linear combination (WLC) method to identify suitable areas for developing NBT in the watershed of Gorgan, northern Iran. The effective criteria which determining suitable areas for recreation were identified and weighted by the Delphi method in three phases. A consensus of opinions was achieved in the third phase with Kendall’s W test factor of 0.608. Therefore, 8 main factors (including 38 sub-factors) and 8 constraints were identified. Then, layers of the factors and constraints were prepared to achieve the MCE process through WLC. Separate MCEs were made for developing extensive and intensive tourism (EX and IT), respectively. In the next step, the recreational potential (low, average, & and high) of the area was identified using a zonal land suitability (ZLS) module based on three scenarios with rigorous, intermediate, and lenient approaches. Results of the scenarios showed that the major areas of the region are suitable for ET development and only small areas are suitable for IT development. The final areas for NBT planning were selected through integrating triple MCE scenarios and achieving ZLS.


Main Subjects