Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 142–155 | Cite as

Nature conservation versus scenic quality: A GIS approach towards optimized tourist tracks in a protected area of Northwest Yunnan, China

  • Ming-yu YangEmail author
  • Frieke Van Coillie
  • Luc Hens
  • Robert De Wulf
  • Xiao-kun Ou
  • Zhi-ming Zhang


Development of appropriate tourism infrastructure is important for protected areas that allow public access for tourism use. This is meant to avoid or minimize unfavourable impacts on natural resources through guiding tourists for proper use. In this paper, a GIS-based method, the least-cost path (LCP) modelling, is explored for planning tourist tracks in a World Heritage site in Northwest Yunnan (China), where tourism is increasing rapidly while appropriate infrastructure is almost absent. The modelling process contains three steps: 1) selection of evaluation criteria (physical, biological and landscape scenic) that are relevant to track decision; 2) translation of evluation criteria into spatially explicit cost surfaces with GIS, and 3) use of Dijkstra’s algorithm to determine the least-cost tracks. Four tracks that link main entrances and scenic spots of the study area are proposed after optimizing all evaluation criteria. These tracks feature low-environmental impacts and high landscape qualities, which represent a reasonable solution to balance tourist use and nature conservation in the study area. In addtion, the study proves that the LCP modelling can not only offer a structured framwork for track planning but also allow for different stakeholders to participate in the planning process. It therefore enhances the effectivenss of tourism planning and managemnt in protected areas.


Tourist track Spatial optimisation Nature conservation Landscape scenic quality Protected area 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ming-yu Yang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Frieke Van Coillie
    • 2
  • Luc Hens
    • 3
  • Robert De Wulf
    • 2
  • Xiao-kun Ou
    • 1
  • Zhi-ming Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and GeobotanyYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Forest Management and Spatial Information TechniquesUniversiteit GentGentBelgium
  3. 3.Flemish Institute for Technological ResearchMolBelgium

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