Document Type: ORIGINAL RESEARCH PAPER

Author

Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, Allama Iqbal Open University AIOU, H-8/2, Islamabad, Pakistan

Abstract

Northern areas of Pakistan have blessed with extremely beautiful natural landscapes, waterfalls, glaciated mountains, biodiversity rich valleys and forests and have extraordinary potential for ecotourism. Study is designed to propose potential sites for ecotourism in Kohistan, which is a least developed but biodiversity rich area of Pakistan.  Poor planning and mismanagement of tourism practices have already disturbed the ecosystems of these highlands; there is a need to involve the local community in environmental conservation practices. As ecotourism has the potential to provide various new means of income for local people. Geographic Information System serves as a decision support tool in finding suitable locations for ecotourism by taking multiple factors into account and helps in devising strategy by providing ecotourism potential sites map in return. Same approach has been applied in the study with use of remote sensing and Geographic Information System based hybrid techniques. Thematic layers from classified image are overlaid with slope, elevation, soil, and vegetation density layers. Multiple criteria based decision is made from weighted overlay analysis which has given potential sites map. These potential sites can be appropriate places for trekking, skiing, white water rafting, sailing, mountain resorts, forest reserves and sports related activities. It is expected that implementing ecotourism in Kohistan will bring positive change in their economic life and it will be equally beneficial for tourism industry of Pakistan.

Graphical Abstract

Highlights

Unplanned tourism development activities especially mass tourism cause environmental quality degradation. Establishment of pastoral and natural reserves is an effective way to stop environmental degradation in the areas that represent tourist attraction. Ecotourism, being main branch of tourism is a planned activity that requires careful assessment of environmental components prior to development. Research provides an ecotourism model for economically deprived district of Pakistan. Product of this model is the appropriate places for trekking, skiing, white water rafting, sailing, mountain resorts, forest reserves and sports related activities. It is expected that implementing ecotourism in Kohistan will bring positive change in their economic life and it will contribute in strengthening of tourism industry in Pakistan.

Keywords

Main Subjects

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