The aim of this study is to establish the most important factors affecting rural development in Turkey by means of a multi-dimensional approach and to achieve realistic and practical rural development strategies using these factors. For this purpose, a total of 96 villages are selected fully covering two counties in the Bartin province located in the Western Black Sea Region of Turkey, which is among the provinces with the lowest per capita income and the highest share of village population. 36 variables which characterise the level of development in villages are developed. These variables are measuring environmental, economic and socio-cultural dimensions and the relationships among them. Principal component and regression analyses are applied determining that there are 12 factors affecting development of the villages. These are (1) geographical location, (2) size of a village, (3) productivity of land, (4) type of land use, (5) active population. (6) poplar production areas, (7) proximity to a river, (8) housing comfort, (9) characteristics of drinking water, (10) productive fruit areas, (11) cooperativization and (12) social infrastructure investments. Based on these 12 factors, a development index (DI) is developed consisting of the 12 variables with the highest factor loading in each derived factor. Villages are divided into three groups based on (1) the DI values and (2) 36 variables used in a discriminant analysis, showing that the proposed DI is a reliable index to measure variation in development. According to these results, development strategies for each village group are put forth. Subsequently, the methodology developed in this paper can be used to monitor village development and to assist in effective use of resources for sustainable forestry and development in Turkey. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.