Introducing the Hiking Suitability Index to evaluate mountain forest roads as poten- tial hiking routes – a case study in Hatila Valley National Park, Turkey
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CitationTurgut, H., Özalp, A. Y., & Akıncı, H. (2021). Introducing the Hiking Suitability Index to evaluate mountain forest roads as potential hiking routes–a case study in Hatila Valley National Park, Eco Mont-Journal On Protected Mountain Areas Research, 13, 55-66.
Planning recreational areas for a conservation-use balance is important in the sustainable use of national parks. This study was conducted to determine the ability of forest roads as hiking routes in Hatila Valley National Park, northeostern Turkey. The indicators used as evaluation criteria were determined using the natural characteristics and landscape values of the National Park. A multi-criteria decision analysis (the Analytic Hierarchy Process; AHP) was used, with route length, slope, altitude, aspect, walking time, landscape quality and access to clean water as the main parameters. Experts were consulted to determine the weights of parameters and the linear scoring functions. Expert opinions were also used for scoring measurable and unmeosurable sub-parameters. A Hiking Suitability Index (HSI) was formulated using these parameters to score the suitability of existing roads for hiking. A Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to map the parameters and hiking routes. Results showed that slope was the most important parameter in assessing suitability. We concluded that forest roads can be used for hiking in protected areas without harming nature, and the suitability of routes can be determined using AHP.