THE CONCEPT OF CARRYING CAPACITY IN TERMS OF SUSTAINABLE USE POLICIES: A CASE STUDY OF BAYRAMİÇ AYAZMAPINARI NATURAL PARK (ÇANAKKALE, TURKEY)
The idea underlying the understanding of sustainability is that mankind should live in such a way that will not exceed the carrying capacity of the environment in order to support it. That is, the sustainable management of natural resources is the way to attain sustainable development. On the other hand, ecological sustainability can be achieved only through conservation-based scientific approaches. If the problems to be caused by the uncontrolled use of resources are predicted in advance and if planning is made to this end, the sustainable use of protected areas will be possible. The concept of "carrying capacity" and the planning studies carried out within the framework of this concept are also essential to hand protected areas down to the future. According to the World Tourism Organization, the Carrying Capacity is defined as the maximum number of people that may visit a tourism area at the same time, without any destruction of the physical, economic, and sociocultural environments and without any undesirable decrease in visitors’ satisfaction levels. In addition, again the World Tourism Organization also stated that the carrying capacity was fundamental to environmental conservation and sustainable development.
Within the framework of this study, it was intended to determine the carrying capacity of Bayramiç Ayazmapınarı Natural Park, which was taken under conservation with the "Natural Park" status in 2011 and which plays an important role in the economic development of the locality. "The Method of Estimating the Carrying Capacity in Protected Areas", recommended by the IUCN, was employed in the research, which was carried out to ensure the sustainable use of the study area with important natural and cultural landscape assets. As a result of the method, it was established that Bayramiç Ayazmapınarı Natural Park had some intensity of use above its carrying capacity. It was concluded that the intensive tourism activities creating a rather negative situation in terms of the sustainability of resources should be re-planned on the basis of conservation & use. Proposals of conservation policies were made in order to hand the existing natural and cultural landscape assets down to future generations. Furthermore, the incomplete or wrong uses in the area were highlighted and various suggestions were made to this end in the research.
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