Beyond geomorphosites: Trade-offs, optimization, and networking in heritage landscapes

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This study uses Danxiashan, a world heritage site in Guangdong province, China, as a case study for planning a hypothetical geotourism network of heritage sites. This landscape has a multiplicity of values-its geoheritage cannot be separated from its ecological or cultural heritage. When designing a network of heritage sites for such a diversely valued landscape trade-offs must be made between differing and potentially conflicting objectives such as geotourism and geoconservation. To solve this multi-criteria decision problem, sites with potential value for people were designated as heritage sites, adapting the concept of geomorphosites-i.e., geomorphological heritage sites-to represent the intersection of anthropic values. In a GIS-based spatial decision support system heritage values for each site were weighted and ranked using the analytic hierarchy process and scenarios for alternative trail systems, and networks of tourism sites were generated by multi-criteria map overlay analysis and networking algorithms. The scenarios generated show how trade-offs can be made between oft-conflicting tourism and conservation objectives, how the design of parks can be optimized for multiple objectives, and how alternative design strategies can be explored. Such an approach could be used in scenario planning workshops to engage stakeholders in participatory design and consensus-based decision-making driven by geospatial science. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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Environment Systems and Decisions

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