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An Assessment of boundary and category changes in Turkish national parks

Koptu, Selin
The protected areas network in Turkey includes a number of sites designated by law as national parks (NP). Unfortunately, social and economic pressures may occasionally lead to downgrading of category or a redrawing of boundaries for some protected areas. The purpose of this thesis is to assess boundary and category changes in Turkish national parks, to try to understand the reasons behind such changes, and to develop recommendations. Such changes between 1959 and 2019 were identified by examining official documents, relevant literature and the press, and the extent and nature of these changes were spatially assessed using CORINE Land Cover maps. Nine NPs had boundary revisions, one site had category change while two sites had both. Seven of those protected areas have increased in size whereas four others got smaller (biggest loss 38.635 ha for Beydağları Sahil NP). Overall 61,726 hectares were added to the national protected area network. Unfavorable ecological outcomes were increased fragmentation, boundary shape change, area loss, and changes in habitat proportions. The main reason for boundary and category changes was apparently to enable managing the PAs with less conflict, which usually was politically motivated rather than being a technical necessity. Using Systematic Conservation Planning for site selection, prioritizing ecosystem integrity when drawing PA boundaries, and better management of established sites would largely reduce the need for future boundary or category changes. We also recommend the reasons for any such changes be fully justified, well documented and shared with the public.