On the Mediterranean coast, the tourism activity which has developed since the 1950s has become a mass tourism industry in recent decades, cohabitating with natural spaces of high environmental value. These sensitive areas are thus subjected to a varied catalog of anthropizing actions (urbanization of the natural soil, modification of the dune balances by the construction of port infrastructures, alteration of marine ecosystems by recreational activities, etc.). All these inter-related elements are often difficult to analyze in a comprehensive way because of their diffuse nature. This paper proposes a methodology based on GIS analysis for the evaluation of diffuse anthropization associated to tourism in sensitive coastal environments. By using different indicators of territorial transformation, a complete method is proposed to establish the index of diffuse anthropization of a territory. This methodology, which is easily applicable in a generalized manner in different cases for developed countries, will be applied in the Mar Menor, a coastal lagoon area in the Mediterranean that has been suffering from mass tourism during recent decades. The results will show the important impact of several actions linked to tourism and the worrying inertia that the current trend can cause in the lagoon’s ecosystem.
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