Multi-criteria analysis for mapping of environmentally sensitive areas in a karst ecosystem


ENVIRONMENT DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10668-021-01363-7


Karst ecosystems are one of the ecologically sensitive areas most affected by the dramatic harmful effects of the desertification process due to their structural, geomorphologic, and ecologic characteristics. The objective of this study was to assess and mapping ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) for monitoring desertification and improving degraded forest areas in karst ecosystems. Sensitive ecological areas were evaluated using the Mediterranean Desertification and Land Use Methodology (MEDALUS) by considering soil quality, vegetation quality, climate quality, and management quality. Three new parameters (exposed rocky surface index, soil organic carbon index, and depression area index) were added specifically to karst ecosystem were evaluated using the Analytic Hierarchic Process (AHP) to determine ecological sensitivity. The study area is Sarimsak Karstic Mountain located in Andirin, Kahramanmaras. Soil organic carbon exposed rocky surface and depression area indices were evaluated over 110 soil samples. Values of each indices were determined according to the AHP methodology. The new SQI(modified) map, which was generated using new indices unique to karstic ecosystems provided a more precise spatial distribution. The results indicated that 44.49% of the study area is Critical, 51.94% is Fragile, and 3.58% is Potential in terms of desertification levels. In areas identified as Critical; agricultural fields, rangelands, and rocky surfaces cover 71.54%. Urban areas were evaluated as 100% Fragile class. Forested areas were evaluated in the Fragile and Potential class. The forest cover class affects Fragile and Potential status very closely. With the increase in forest cover rate, it has reduced fragility. The most critical ESAi classification area (C3) was detected in rangelands. Specific indices should be created to provide a realistic perspective in the combat to desertification in karst ecosystems.