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Despite expected benefits such as conservation, recreation or sustainable development, most protected areas (PAs) have serious problems in implementing basic management functions such as planning, organizing, coordination or control. In order to maximize management effectiveness, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has developed the rapid assessment and prioritization of protected area management (RAPPAM) methodology for assessment of protected area management at system level based on planning, pressure and threats, inputs, processes and outputs. The RAPPAM assessment was implemented in the Turkish part of the West Lesser Caucasus for 11 PAs with 3 different categories. Two meetings were conducted with the participation of 70 people in possession of the best local knowledge about the PAs in the region. The results show that management assessment scores in all areas were rather low and this finding was similar throughout Turkey. In general, policy environment scores were remarkably below the average, showing that the importance and priority of conservation among public policies is rather low. Threats in the region were high in areas with high biological diversity. Further, semi natural processes, pollution, conversion and tourism appeared to be the greatest threat and pressure elements for the PAs in the region.
Key words: Rapid assessment and prioritization of protected area management (RAPPAM), management effectiveness, protected areas, Northeast Black Sea region, Turkish Caucasus, Turkey.