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Beach carrying capacity assessment: case study for sustainable use of Kusadasi beaches

Khodkar, Ghazal
Intense and uncontrolled touristic activities have the potential to disrupt natural environments, such as beaches with irreversible physical and environmental impacts. In addition, possible socio-economic losses could be expected if the quality of the visitation (e.g., crowding, physical comfort of the visitor related to climatic conditions) to these areas are not considered in the management. The concept of carrying capacity defines the degree of acceptable use of natural areas and resource values, considering their long-term preservation physically and socio-economically. Considering the value of the beaches of Turkey, it is important to determine their carrying capacities for their sustainable use and management.In this study, physical and real carrying capacities of urban beaches with uncontrolled use in Kuşadası and natural beaches of Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes National Park are discussed by applying the Cifuentes (1992) method. The impacts of the factors affecting the number of tourists (climatic conditions and coastal erosion) over the years are investigated. Change in the beach carrying capacity due to climate change (sea level rise and temperature) is also assessed. Real carrying capacities of Kuşadası beaches are expected to decrease at least to half of the current capacities because of the significant loss of beach area with rising sea levels in the next 100 years. Kadınlar beach has a high risk of losing all of its capacity within 50 years. The sustainability of beach activities in Kuşadası will be affected by loss of beach area and consequently the loss of quality of the visit because of crowding. The results show that an effective solution needs to integrate both visitor management plans and shoreline management strategies for beach areas.