Use of Ecological Services as an Ecological Indicators to propose appropriate tourism type "Case Study: Sorkhankul wetland Wildlife Refuge"

Document Type : Research Paper


1 environmental planning, Alborz, Tehran university






1. Introduction
The wetlands and aquatic ecosystems of the country are counted as valuable assets which regulating the underground waters of the surrounding environment, microclimate adjustment, hunting, hunting birds and fishing, supplying feeding sources for the livestock, weaving, etc. depend on them. Preserving theses complex ecological systems and benefiting from numerous economic, resort, and genetic resources, etc. require an accurate study and recognition of each wetland. Unfortunately, in developing countries, the policy-makers, planners on one hand, and the citizens and the villagers themselves on the other hand do not significantly value the protection of these wetland. Finding a proper type of tourism through ecosystem services of the wetland and using ecological indices for the recognition and examination of the changes of the ecosystem, which is one of the main objectives of this study, have always been of great interest by the planners in the field of environment. The changes of an index in response to facing stressors are counted as valuable information resources for the planners in the field of environment to prepare for different scenarios for the future of an ecosystem which has faced man-made disturbances. The indices are counted as perquisites for preparing the strategies. Employing the indices reflect the pressure and states of the key factors which are used as tools in the analysis of the system. From evaluators’ points of view, in the evaluation of the states and the systems procedure, humans’ and environment’s objectives are the indices for environmental and ecologic programs which use factors or dimensions of the phenomena associated with the environment to illustrate and evaluate the environmental conditions or for setting environmental goals. Ecosystem services could also be construed as direct and indirect sectors of ecosystem and functional structures besides other factors in human’s welfare (objective( which lead to the destructions and responses are the activities by the human community with the objective of reducing the environmental pressure and improving the quality of the environment
2. Material and methods
In this research, DPSIR model abilities are used to analyze the relationships of environmental and human systems of the wetland with a focus on ecosystem services and the functions affected by the driving forces and a focus on tourism..
Sorkhankol wildlife refuge is part of Anzali international wetland. Finding the proper type of tourism through the wetland ecosystem services and using them as ecological indices through DPSIR model is defined as the objective of this research.
In general, the following steps were performed in this research:
- Introducing different possible types of tourism in the region
- Finding the indices associated with the most important environmental issues of the region for each type of tourism based on DPSIR model
- Classifying the identified indices in categories including driving force, pressure, state, etc. according to the conceptual model
- Introducing the index associated with each component of the developed conceptual model
- Finding the relationship among different components based on DPSIR model
- Weighting the effect of driving forces according to an experts’ point of view
- Analytic hierarchy process on the driving forces in a geographical data system environment
- Calculating the incompatibility coefficients for the effect components in different types of tourism
- Suggestions for reducing the negative impacts in the form of possible reactions
3. Discussion of results
Certain pressures are applied to the system which induces certain condition in each type of tourism that affects ecosystem services in terms of the values and benefits for the humans. These effects were determined in analytic hierarchy process with the coefficients among which the minimum value was 0.070 which implies the minimum compatibility and the highest compatibility of 0.29 was obtained. The services or functions which are affected in each type of tourism are as follows. For rural tourism: decreased production, reduced hydrological balance (water consumption for agriculture), change of land use of protected areas to agricultural areas, destruction of habitats and compromising the safety of the habitat, less aesthetic aspects, reduced genetic resources. For urban and cultural-historical tourism: enhancing and regulating the air, self-purification, less aesthetic aspects and sense of belonging in ecotourism, destruction of habitats and compromising the safety of the habitat, less aesthetics aspects, enhancing and regulating the air, self-purification, aesthetics and sense of belonging, destruction of the habitat (through the concentration of tourists on visiting protected zones and the presence of motor bats and consequently, noise generation, smoke and hydrocarbon spots due to motor boats which affects the self-purification and the absorption of pollutions and less social and political safety and reduced ability to exploit resources for educational and bird watching tours). Each of these items are classified in one group of ecosystem services including productive, regulatory, supportive, and cultural. Regardless of which value or function or ecosystem service is found to be more compatible by each resultant coefficient, it is verified in which type of tourism, the resultant drives have applied certain pressures on the ecosystem such that higher compatibility is obtained between the effect and the function. The obtained coefficients were 0.26, 0.24, 0.23, 0.23, 0.24, and 0.13 for rural tourism, 0.23, 0.23, 0.23, 0.07, 0.21, 0.23, 0.23, 0.23, and 0.14 for urban tourism, 0.23, 0.25, 0.23, 0.20, and 0.21 for cultural-historical tourism, and 0.29, 0.28, 0.26, 0.29, 0.29, 0.25, and 0.23 for eco-tourism.
4. Conclusions
Given what is stated, preparing and implementing ecotourism services standards, preparing comprehensive educational documents and organizing ecotourists in smaller groups in Sorkhankol wildlife refuge are necessary, particularly in the water body of the wetland such that one could reduce the pressure on the environment through designing the paths for motor boats and changing them from motor boat type to row boats as much as possible. It is worth noting that due to the volume of the sediments entering Sorkhankol wetland and shrunk aquatic area of the wetland on one hand, and considerably reduced depth of the wetland on the other hand, such that the depth of Sorkhankol wetland was measured to be 30-50 millimeters in a field observation, the movement of the boats faces serious technical issues which is considered as a technical issue for visiting the Indian lotus as the main attraction of Sorkhankol wetland beside being an environmental damage. However, the Indian lotus currently acts as a sediment trap which intensifies the choking phenomenon of the wetland which is a serious conflict among the attractions of Sorkhankol wetland and its health which requires the urgent and strategic actions of the experts.
Key words: recreation, ecological criteria, DPSIR model, Sorkhankol wetland


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