Publication Date

Summer 2019

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Leslie North (Director), Jason Polk, and Grant Harley

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The intent of this research was to create and evaluate a karst tourism management index (KTMI). This index is intended to be a new management tool designed to quantify environmental disturbances caused specifically by tourism activities in karst regions, particularly show caves and springs. In an effort to assess the effectiveness of the index as a management tool in karst terrains, after development, the index was applied to six case study sites. A review of the management policies at each study site was conducted with the use of standard policy critique methods and semistructured interviews with managers at the study sites. After interviews were completed, the newly created index was applied to the study areas with the aid of park land managers. Including land managers in the application process allowed for active land managers to provide more meaningful feedback on potential improvements to the KTMI to ensure the most universally applicable and thoroughly field-tested index tool was created. Upon application and continual refinement of the index to the six study sites, a new data-driven management tool to measure disturbances to karst terrains by tourism was developed. The KTMI consist of an Overall Score category that is broken down into the two main categories of Management and Tourism. The KTMI contains 168 indicators that all need to be scored individually to obtain results, with Management containing 100 of the indicators and Tourism containing the other 68 indicators.


Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Human Geography | Mathematics | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability