Optimization of recreational site selection using multi criteria evaluation and functional relationship diagram (Case study: Miankaleh wildlife sanctuary)

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 MSc. Graduate in Environmental Science, Gorgan University of Agricultural and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran

2 Assoc. Prof., Faculty of Environment science, Gorgan University of Agricultural and Natural resources, Gorgan, Iran

3 Assist. Prof., Faculty of Environment science, Gorgan University of Agricultural and Natural resources, Gorgan, Iran



Today, ecotourism is a major tourist activity around the world. It is based on environment potential through which suitable utilization and conservation of sites under management practices including considering accurate planning, potential, and peoples’ preferences are realized. The present study was conducted to determine people’s recreational preferences using questionnaires to evaluate the ecotourism potentials (recreational activities that choice in questioner by visitors) for site selection and land use planning, and to analyze the functional relationships among zones in the MianKaleh wildlife sanctuary, south of the Caspian Sea in Mazandaran and Golestan Provinces of Iran. Recreational preferences of people were found to be bird watching, swimming, camping, sightseeing, horse riding, and boating. Multi Criteria Evaluation was used to assess the ecotourism potential. For land use planning, the Multi Objective Land Allocation function included environmental suitability maps, zone weighting, and a set of desirable areas for each zone. Post processing functions (filters, zone size, and distance to other zones) and functional relationship diagrams were applied to amend the zoning maps. The functional relationship diagram concept was applied to the amended maps for optimizing access and identifying the relationships among zones. Overall, the results revealed that MCE and MOLA methods are capable of evaluating and zoning the wildlife sanctuary. Furthermore, post-processing and functional relationship diagrams were effective in selecting recreational sites. The results of this research revealed the recreational potential of MianKaleh wildlife sanctuary. Land planning for ecotourism can now be implemented using the results of this study that will upgrade the conservation status in the area.


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