Nature provides people with a wide range of benefits, also known as nature’s contributions to people (NCP). The NCP framework evolved from the Ecosystem services (ES) concept as a response to the critiques and misconceptions associated with ES over the last years. Broadening ES valuations that have been dominated by economic valuations, the NCP framework emphasizes a pluralistic approach to valuation of nature’s contributions, necessary in order to account for contributions that are intangible and non-marketable. Balancing the conservation of nature with increased tourism can be challenging, especially due to the lack of appropriate data on how and where people experience and use nature. Crowdsourced data has been shown successful at identifying the values people ascribe to nature. However, there is a lack of guidelines on what type of crowdsourced data can better inform protected area (PA) managers.
This thesis investigates the opportunities and limitations of using crowdsourced data to identify spatially explicit place-based values and the use of nature by local, domestic- and international users of protected areas. I compare one passively generated data source; an online photo-sharing platform (i.e. Flickr), with two actively generated data sources; an online mapping platform (Public Participatory Geographic Information System – PPGIS) and a dedicated mobile application. Park managers and tourism stakeholders were consulted in the initial stages of the PPGIS survey and the mobile app development. The study area is located in Southern Norway, and includes Jotunheimen national park, Breheimen national park, Utladalen protected landscape and the surrounding landscape and settlements.
I show that spatially explicit values, generated through crowdsourced data gathering methods, can serve as non-economic valuation tools to understand nature’s contributions to PA visitors. Furthermore, crowdsourcing provides an arena for an inclusive valuation of nature’s contributions, as the datasets include a large body of visitors. Looking at the spatial distribution of values, I found they were clustered around major attractions (e.g. mountains and glaciers) and infrastructure (e.g. roads and trails). International visitors differed from local visitors by the type of values ascribed to nature as well as the location they visit. International visitors appreciated clean and wild nature, whereas people living near these protected areas related to nature more through hunting, fishing, berry picking and cultural heritage. Despite relating to nature in different ways, there was low potential of conflict among user groups, as they tended to use different locations.
The three studied crowdsourcing methods offer opportunities and limitations for studying nature’s contributions to visitors, and the data generated differ with respect to the type of place-based values mapped, the resolution of the data, the recruitment of participants and the costs of implementation. Flickr offers a large body of freely available georeferenced data. The drawback is that it cannot always provide the data needed as they are not customized to map specific values. PPGIS and mobile apps, however, can be tailored to the study to gather the desired data, but there are costs associated with the development of the platform and with recruiting participants. Dedicated mobile apps provide additional opportunities offered by built-in functionalities of smartphones, such as real-time tracking or in situ mapping. The integrated GPS of smartphones facilitates high-resolution georeferenced data. In contrast, PPGIS and Flickr provide data with lower and more variable resolution due to biases in the georeferencing of values.
Crowdsourcing provides cost-effective tools that can generate spatial data on place-based values and priority areas to understand NCP. Crowdsourced data collected over time can help monitoring changes and be used as an indicator for when management actions are required in the face of increasing visitation to PAs. The challenge remains in identifying values that are not necessarily connected to a specific place, and entail a broader experience, for which further research is needed.
Paper I: Muñoz, L., Hausner, V.H., Brown, G., Runge, C. & Fauchald, P. (2019). Identifying Spatial Overlap in the Values of Locals, Domestic- and International Tourists to Protected Areas. Tourism Management, 71. Also available in Munin at https://hdl.handle.net/10037/17856.
Paper II: Muñoz, L., Hausner, V.H., Runge, C., Brown, G. & Daigle, R. Using crowdsourced spatial data from Flickr vs. PPGIS for understanding nature’s contribution to people in Southern Norway. (Accepted manuscript). Now published in People and Nature, 2020, available at https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10083.
Paper III: Muñoz, L., Hausner, V.H. & Monz, C.A. (2019). Advantages and Limitations of Using Mobile Apps for Protected Area Monitoring and Management. Society & Natural Resources, 32(4), 473–488. Not available in Munin due to publisher’s restrictions. Available at https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2018.1544680. Accepted manuscript version available in Munin at https://hdl.handle.net/10037/17924.