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Multi-dimensional evaluation and ranking of coastal areas using GIS and multiple criteria choice methods
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Coastal ecosystems are increasingly threatened by short-sighted management policies that focus on human activities rather than the systems that sustain them. The early assessment of the impacts of human activities on the quality of the environment in coastal areas is important for decision-making, particularly in cases of environment/development conflicts, such as environmental degradation and saturation in tourist areas. In the present study, a methodology was developed for the multi-dimensional evaluation and ranking of coastal areas using a set of criteria and based on the combination of multiple criteria choice methods and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The northeastern part of the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea, Greece was the case study area. A distinction in sub-areas was performed and they were ranked according to socio-economic and environmental parameters. The robustness of the proposed methodology was assessed using different configurations of the initial criteria and reapplication of the process. The advantages and disadvantages, as well as the usefulness of this methodology for comparing the status of coastal areas and evaluating their potential for further development based on various criteria, is further discussed.