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An assessment of natural resources management conflicts in the working landscapes of Mediterranean Turkey (Turkiye): Koprulu Kanyon National Park

Nedim Kemer, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Environmental conservation and natural resources management are critical global issues of the 21st century. The management of protected public lands emerges as a challenge particularly in developing countries because of the biophysical and socio-cultural importance of these lands. These lands are often referred to as ‘working landscapes’ where the natural systems and the collective actions of local residents have shaped one another in well-balanced interactions for generations. ^ The working landscapes of the Köprülü Kanyon National Park (KKNP) in Turkey have provided the case study for this dissertation. Eleven villages exist within the park with a total of approximately 7,100 residents. The rich natural resources of the park have been contested by local communities, management and concessionaires. The objectives of the research were: first, to understand the fundamentals of the natural and socio-cultural dynamics within protected areas in general, and within the KKNP in particular; second, to examine the social conflicts which complicate the management of the KKNP; and third, to explore potential solutions whereby the stakeholders can cooperate in stabilizing the traditional dynamics of the park’s working landscapes. Qualitative data was collected via 38 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with local residents, managers and concessionaires. ^ The research found that an array of social disturbances and conflicts impact the social fabric and harm the land-human integrity of the site. These include shifting demographics, changing lifestyles of the villagers, pressures from tourism, multiple governmental authorities and instable management. Yaylacýlýk tradition, a semi-sedentary form of pastoralism, has played a significant role in both the traditional ecology and the social relations within the communities of the KKNP; and its abandonment has severely impacted both social and biophysical conditions. Through yaylacýlýk local residents had managed the lands as common property. The establishment of the national park, changing life styles and the pressures on the local agricultural economy brought an end to yaylacýlýk. Now the resources are treated in effect as open pool resources, thus leading to their demise. Throughout the eventful past of the KKNP the local residents have come from being integral elements of the ‘working landscapes,’ to being as antagonistic enemies of the park management. ^ The three ideal characteristic elements of the ‘working landscapes’ of the KKNP (controlled access, coordination and communication) which once were maintained by the yaylacýlýk tradition, can be re-institutionalized within the region through contemporary applications by neutral third party initiatives. Restoration, conservation and efficient management of biophysical resources and the natural environment should be the outcomes of the resolutions of social conflicts which can be accomplished by the restoration of these three elements of the social structure.^

Subject Area

Environmental science|Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Kemer, Nedim, "An assessment of natural resources management conflicts in the working landscapes of Mediterranean Turkey (Turkiye): Koprulu Kanyon National Park" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3359144.