Dept. of Forestry, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sari, Iran
Ecotourism as the most attractive subset of the tourism industry can contribute to natural resource conservation and local development. Although great numbers of people annually visit Abbasabad area, in Veresk, Mazandaran, to enjoy its brilliant landscape and moderate ecologic condition, there is no applicable plan for many natural attractive zones in this area. As a result, some specific well known areas are threatened by being overused while other unknown or less familiar ones remain unvisited. Therefore, proper comprehensive ecotourism plans are required to prevent overusing most widely known forests as well as new integrated plans are needed for introducing unknown potential areas to people. In this research, a feasibility study was conducted to identify potential ecotourism zones within the study area, and then applicable strategies were suggested for optimal exploitation of the area. Both Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing techniques accelerated our research process, enhanced accuracy and reduced the expenses of this study. In addition, the map of the slope, height and aspect were produced using a topographic map in an ARCVIEW environment. These three maps were overlaid to provide the Land shape map of the study area. To make an accurate decision about the most appropriate ecotourism land use, two maps of soil and vegetation cover were overlaid to produce an environmental unit map. The ecotourism potential map was obtained by measuring the available bio-environmental units on this map based on our predetermined factors in this study. The largest part of the area was identified suitable for class I alternative ecotourism. Moreover, two villages of Abbasabad and Bezmilesh made the study area appropriate for establishing an ecotourism village. According to the results of this study, Abbasabad Veresk forest area was proved to be appropriate to construct a natural forest park.