Protected areas are central to all nature conservation efforts with their key environmental, social, cultural and economic functions throughout the world. The protected forest areas system in Turkey consists of national parks, nature parks, nature monuments, and nature protection areas. Among these, the national parks are the most extensive in terms of the total area. Since the first national park was created in 1958, the number of the parks and other protected areas in the country has gradually expanded. Today, there are 41 national parks covering an area of 898.044 ha. Major problems in managing national parks in Turkey can be classified into the followings: administrative-legislation, planning, lack of resources; stakeholder’s participation-local’s needs, lack of baseline data and inappropriate uses such as unregulated tourism. In this study, legislation and institutional framework, the extent and distribution of parks according to main criteria for selection, and major problems indicated earlier are critically examined.
Key words: Protected area, national park, management objectives, ecotourism, conservation.
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