Gap Analysis: a conservation tool for system of national parks management in Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Malayer University, Malayer, Iran.

2 Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran.

3 Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Fisheries and Environmental Sciences, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Gorgan, Iran.

4 Department of Environmental Sciences Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Malayer University, Malayer, Iran.

5 Expert of Protected Areas and Habitats, Department of Environment of Mazandaran, Sari, Iran..



Protected areas are parts of the land that are selected and managed for effective in situ biodiversity conservation, among other important ecosystems features. With an efficient network of protected areas located in the right places to represent all ecosystems, ecological resource management can better be achieved. Gap analysis provides a tool for assessing the degree to which biodiversity is represented in conservation areas that help land managers and policy makers when they need to make appropriate decisions. In this study, the representativeness of the national parks system as part of Iran’s protected areas network, for terrestrial ecosystems was investigated. For this purpose, suitable criteria and indicators for national parks selection were identified and mapped. We developed a decision-making algorithm for assessing the representativeness of the national parks based on the set goals mentioned above. Using the algorithm, the indicators layer was overlaid with the ecosystems layer and national parks and the national parks coverage of ecosystem patches was evaluated and coded. Having calculated the coverage of the ecosystems, three scenarios were defined and their realization was assessed in each ecosystem, hence showing the lack of ecosystems’ protection. The results showed that the three scenarios have only been realized in two ecosystems of Cold & Arid Bare Mountains and Arid Scrubland & Halophytes, and in other ecosystems, the level of representativeness is not sufficient. Based on this, the area required to complete the system of national parks in terrestrial ecosystems was calculated as around 2000000 hectares. The results of this study can be a guide for land protection planners to revise the system of terrestrial national parks in Iran.


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