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Evaluating the Impacts of Top-down Protected Area Governance on Local Livelihoods - The Case of the Turkish Village of Kapikiri
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This study evaluates the positive and negative impacts of strict protected area designation on the livelihoods and socioeconomic wellbeing of a resident community living within the boundaries of a protected area, and explores how these impacts are distributed across different community groups. The study also examines whether strict protected area designation compensates for a decrease in traditional income by increased tourism. A case study analysis was conducted in the Turkish village of Kapikiri, where two centuries ago, modern settlement began among the ruins of an ancient Greek city. The area's rich cultural and natural heritage resources and biodiversity prompted the Turkish government to designate it with strict culture-protected area status in 1989, and with nature-protected area status in 1994. The study involved conducting a household survey with a representative sample of households, interviews with different community groups, and interviews with officials at various levels of protected area governance. The study reveals that the Turkish government did not balance strict culture-protected area status with residents' socioeconomic development needs. An inflexible, to changing circumstances non-adaptive legal framework of cultural heritage conservation did not accommodate residents' development needs, prohibiting them any change on their built structures. Conversely, the broader nature-protected area status, intended to conserve the area's natural heritage resources and biodiversity, provided for the continuation of a traditional cultural landscape and encouraged tourism, creating a demand for tourism services and establishments. Increased demand in tourism combined with fines not high enough to deter illegal construction, however, did not discourage particularly business owners from building illegally. While business owners expanded their business capacity and increased their income, being able to absorb the costs of illegal activity, most farmers vulnerable to regional economic and agricultural influences, lacked finances to build or renovate illegally and provide new housing for subsequent generations. The case of Kapikiri points to a pressing need for long-term conservation and development strategies that address the unique and changing dynamics of local socioeconomic contexts. Protected area governance in Turkey needs to adopt a conservation policy that is pluralistic and responsive to changing local socioeconomic needs and environmental conditions; one that meets the needs of local communities while preserving heritage resources for generations to come.