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Questioning 'sustainability' of forest lands allocated and used for tourism in Turkey

Biter, Serdar
Turkey is one of the leading tourism countries of the world. Tourism contributes to not only national economy but also regional development. Turkey has adhered to several international conventions regarding economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability. Nonetheless, since the onset of the 1980s, Tourism Encouragement Law’s main policies, along with the globalization and privatization, have developed mass tourism in Turkey, and led to continuous damage on the natural environment. Over the last thirty years, forest lands along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts have been eradicated and over-exploited to a greater degree through the development of large-scale, inward-oriented and exclusive tourism investments, and second-home developments. This thesis investigates the extent to which forest lands in Turkey are allocated regarding ‘sustainability’ measures. It first makes a literature review on the notions of ‘sustainability’, ‘sustainable development’, ‘sustainable forest management’ and ‘sustainable tourism planning’, and examines institutional, stakeholder, policy and legal dimensions of tourism planning on forest lands in Canada and Australia, widely accepted with their advanced practices in the world to draw a theoretical framework and identify main components of ‘sustainability’. Second, it analyzes how far institutional, stakeholder, policy and legal structures in Turkey have accommodated the sustainability approach, while allocating forest lands to tourism. Then, it examines the recent development story of Belek Tourism Center (BTC) in Antalya by assessing ‘economic’, ‘socio-cultural’ and ‘environmental’ sustainability indicators. In the final part, the thesis underlines the major shortcomings and seeks to identify main policies for ‘sustainable’ allocation and use of forests for tourism in Turkey.