Special Issue "Geospatial Social Data and Participatory Mapping for Landscape Change and Socio-Environmental Systems"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Bianca Lopez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), University of Maryland, USA
Interests: plant community ecology; urban ecology; biodiversity conservation; ecosystem services; human–environment interactions; seed dispersal; plant functional traits
Dr. Ginger Allington
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
Interests: human–environment connections; landscape ecology; remote sensing; plant ecology; arid rangelands; pastoralism; system dynamics models; long-term data; spatio-temporal data
Dr. Stephanie Tomscha
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Interests: landscape ecology; ecosystem services; landscape history; floodplains
Dr. Sarah Gergel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Conservation and Forest Science, University of British Columbia, Canada
Interests: landscape ecology; river-floodplain ecology; aerial photography; mapping ecosystem services; spatial pattern analysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Many questions in landscape ecology involve interactions and feedbacks between humans and their environment. Considering both of these key factors in socio-environmental research is challenging, in part because environmental and social data are often collected at very different spatial grains and extents. However, data from non-authoritative sources (i.e., citizens) also provide information on what is happening in the world, often with precise geo-locations and broad extents that more closely match the scale of remotely sensed environmental and land cover data.

This Special Issue will highlight landscape and regional-scale work on human–environment linkages using spatially-explicit data generated by local communities through crowd-sourced data, social media, and participatory mapping. Geospatial social data and participatory mapping are powerful tools for examining the spatial patterns of human-environment interactions, drawing on rich and varied spatial knowledge of people and communities. Spatially referenced non-authoritative data include participatory mapping, crowd-sourced data to address particular goals, such as adding photos to maps, identifying land use features, or recording observations of species. In addition, with the widespread adoption of social media platforms, there is a new source of publicly available geo-referenced data on people’s attitudes, interests, and behavior. These data are used to understand both biophysical locations and human values for ecosystem services, and can be used in locations where data are scarce, and to create congruent social and ecological datasets. Geospatial social data and participatory mapping can also encourage communal negotiation of land stewardship, foster connections among participants, and document long-term ecological knowledge held by community members.

We invite papers on the use of social media and other crowd-sourced data to study socio-environmental systems in a spatial context, such as people’s responses to environmental hazards to cultural ecosystem services provided by parks, or the diverse ways participatory mapping has been used to understand the spatial patterns of ecosystems and landscape values. We also welcome papers on the interdisciplinary space of social-ecological systems, with a focus on participatory mapping approaches for understanding the spatial locations of ecosystems, human values, and their interactions.

Dr. Bianca Lopez
Dr. Ginger Allington
Dr. Stephanie Tomscha
Dr. Sarah Gergel
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • landscape ecology
  • ecosystem services
  • participatory mapping
  • social media
  • crowd-sourced data
  • socio-environmental systems

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle
Participatory Mapping in a Developing Country Context: Lessons from South Africa
Land 2019, 8(9), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8090134 - 03 Sep 2019
Abstract
Digital participatory mapping improves accessibility to spatial information and the way in which knowledge is co-constructed and landscapes co-managed with impoverished communities. However, many unintended consequences for social and epistemic justice may be exacerbated in developing country contexts. Two South African case studies [...] Read more.
Digital participatory mapping improves accessibility to spatial information and the way in which knowledge is co-constructed and landscapes co-managed with impoverished communities. However, many unintended consequences for social and epistemic justice may be exacerbated in developing country contexts. Two South African case studies incorporating Direct-to-Digital participatory mapping in marginalized communities to inform land-use decision-making, and the ethical challenges of adopting this method are discussed. Understanding the past and present context of the site and the power dynamics at play is critical to develop trust and manage expectations among research participants. When employing unfamiliar technology, disparate literacy levels and language barriers create challenges for ensuring participants understand the risks of their involvement and recognize their rights. The logistics of using this approach in remote areas with poor infrastructure and deciding how best to leave the participants with the maps they have co-produced in an accessible format present further challenges. Overcoming these can however offer opportunity for redressing past injustices and empowering marginalized communities with a voice in decisions that affect their livelihoods. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Integrating Participatory Methods and Remote Sensing to Enhance Understanding of Ecosystem Service Dynamics Across Scales
Land 2019, 8(9), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8090132 - 28 Aug 2019
Abstract
The value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) for informing resource management has long been recognized; however, its incorporation into ecosystem services (ES) assessments remains uncommon. Often “top-down” approaches are utilized, depending on “expert knowledge”, that are not relevant to local resource users. Here [...] Read more.
The value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) for informing resource management has long been recognized; however, its incorporation into ecosystem services (ES) assessments remains uncommon. Often “top-down” approaches are utilized, depending on “expert knowledge”, that are not relevant to local resource users. Here we propose an approach for combining participatory methods with remote sensing to provide a more holistic understanding of ES change. Participatory mapping in focus group discussions identified TEK regarding what ES were present, where, and their value to communities. TEK was then integrated with satellite imagery to extrapolate to the landscape-scale. We demonstrate our method for Nyangatom communities in the Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia, showing for the first time the ES impacts of regional environmental change, including the Gibe III dam, for communities in the Omo River basin. Results confirmed the collapse of flood-retreat cultivation associated with the loss of the annual Omo flood. Communities reported declines in many other provisioning ES, and these results were supported by satellite mapping, which showed substantial reductions in land covers with high ES value (shrubland and wetland), leading to consequent ES declines. Our mixed-methods approach has potential to be applied in other regions to generate locally relevant information for evaluating ES dynamics and improving management of natural resources. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Using Farmer Decision Rules for Mapping Historical Land Use Change Patterns from 1954 to 2007 in Rural Northwestern Vietnam
Land 2019, 8(9), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8090130 - 28 Aug 2019
Abstract
The present study revealed how local socioecological knowledge elucidated during participatory rural appraisals and historical remote sensing data can be combined for analyzing land use change patterns from 1954 to 2007 in northwestern Vietnam. The developed approach integrated farmer decision rules on cropping [...] Read more.
The present study revealed how local socioecological knowledge elucidated during participatory rural appraisals and historical remote sensing data can be combined for analyzing land use change patterns from 1954 to 2007 in northwestern Vietnam. The developed approach integrated farmer decision rules on cropping preferences and location, visual and supervised classification methods, and qualitative information obtained during various forms of participatory appraisals. The integration of historical remote sensing data (aerial photo, Landsat, LISS III) with farmer decision rules showed the feasibility of the proposed method to explain crop distribution patterns for the assessment period of 53 years. Our approach is beneficial for data-limited environments, which is a prevalent situation for many developing regions. The derived land use and crop type dataset was used for understanding how anthropogenic activities altered the study area of the Chieng Khoi commune during the assessment period of five decades, and what potential impact this can have on the natural resource base. The newly developed approach offers a methodological pathway that can be easily transferred to local government authorities for a better understanding of cropping transitions and agricultural expansion trends in data-limited rural landscapes. The detected land use change patterns and upland cropping expansion of more than two hundred percent in 53 years not only revealed the consequences of the interactions and feedback between farmers and their land, but further highlighted the urgent need for implementing sustainable land management practices in the case study watershed of the Chieng Khoi commune and northwestern Vietnam in general. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Identifying Opportunities to Conserve Farm Ponds on Private Lands: Integration of Social, Ecological, and Historical Data
Land 2019, 8(9), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8090127 - 23 Aug 2019
Abstract
In some landscapes, effective conservation of wildlife habitat requires extending beyond the boundaries of reserves and addressing stewardship of private lands. This approach could be especially valuable for the conservation of farm ponds, which are abundant and serve key agricultural functions on private [...] Read more.
In some landscapes, effective conservation of wildlife habitat requires extending beyond the boundaries of reserves and addressing stewardship of private lands. This approach could be especially valuable for the conservation of farm ponds, which are abundant and serve key agricultural functions on private lands. Though farm ponds also provide wildlife habitat, little is known about how they are managed or how values and beliefs of their owners relate to their quality. To address this knowledge gap, we collected data on pond habitat quality and management using historical aerial imagery and high-resolution Google Earth satellite imagery of the Grand River Grasslands of southern Iowa and Northern Missouri. We also collected spatially congruent social data using a mail back survey sent to 456 landowners in the region (32.7% response rate). We used mixed-effects linear regression to link indicators of habitat quality to the survey results. We found that many ponds were permanent, accessible to cattle, in early successional states, and had little wetland vegetation, indicating a scarcity of suitable habitat for wildlife. At the same time, 35–57% of survey respondents said they would be willing to change their management to benefit aquatic organisms. Our analyses indicated that higher cover of cattails correlated with ownership by respondents who regarded row crops or income from agriculture as less important and ponds tended to be temporary if owned by respondents who had many ponds. Moving forward, large landowners and those willing to manage their land to benefit wildlife may constitute a core set of future partners for conservation efforts focused on improving pond habitat in the region. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Geographic Spread and Preferences of Tourists Revealed by User-Generated Information on Jeju Island, South Korea
Land 2019, 8(5), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8050073 - 26 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Recreation and tourism are important ways that people interact with and derive benefits from natural environments. Understanding how and where nature provides recreational opportunities and benefits is necessary for management decisions that impact the environment. This study develops and tests an approach for [...] Read more.
Recreation and tourism are important ways that people interact with and derive benefits from natural environments. Understanding how and where nature provides recreational opportunities and benefits is necessary for management decisions that impact the environment. This study develops and tests an approach for mapping tourism patterns, and assessing people’s preferences for cultural and natural landscapes, using user-generated geographic content. The volume of geotagged images and tweets shared publicly on Flickr and Twitter and proprietary mobile phone traffic provided by a telecommunications company, are used to map visitation rates to potential tourist destinations across Jeju Island, South Korea. We find that densities of social media posts and mobile phone traffic are all correlated with ticket sales and counts of gate entries at tourist sites. Using multivariate linear regression, we measure the degree to which attributes of the natural and built environment explain variation in visitation rates, and find that tourists to Jeju Island prefer to recreate near beaches, sea cliffs, golf courses and hiking trails. We conclude that high-resolution and spatially-explicit visitation data provided by user-generated content open the door for statistical models that can quantify recreation demand. Managers and practitioners could combine these flexible and relatively inexpensive user-generated data with more traditional survey data to inform sustainable tourism development plans and policy decisions. These methods are especially useful in the context of landscape or regional-scale ecosystem service assessments, where there is a need to map the multiple ecological, economic, and cultural benefits of the environment. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Making It Spatial Makes It Personal: Engaging Stakeholders with Geospatial Participatory Modeling
Land 2019, 8(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8020038 - 22 Feb 2019
Abstract
Participatory research methods are increasingly used to collectively understand complex social-environmental problems and to design solutions through diverse and inclusive stakeholder engagement. But participatory research rarely engages stakeholders to co-develop and co-interpret models that conceptualize and quantify system dynamics for comparing scenarios of [...] Read more.
Participatory research methods are increasingly used to collectively understand complex social-environmental problems and to design solutions through diverse and inclusive stakeholder engagement. But participatory research rarely engages stakeholders to co-develop and co-interpret models that conceptualize and quantify system dynamics for comparing scenarios of alternate action. Even fewer participatory projects have engaged people using geospatial simulations of dynamic landscape processes and spatially explicit planning scenarios. We contend that geospatial participatory modeling (GPM) can confer multiple benefits over non-spatial approaches for participatory research processes, by (a) personalizing connections to problems and their solutions through visualizations of place, (b) resolving abstract notions of landscape connectivity, and (c) clarifying the spatial scales of drivers, data, and decision-making authority. We illustrate through a case study how GPM is bringing stakeholders together to balance population growth and conservation in a coastal region facing dramatic landscape change due to urbanization and sea level rise. We find that an adaptive, iterative process of model development, sharing, and revision drive innovation of methods and ultimately improve the realism of land change models. This co-production of knowledge enables all participants to fully understand problems, evaluate the acceptability of trade-offs, and build buy-in for management actions in the places where they live and work. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
A Citizen-Contributed GIS Approach for Evaluating the Impacts of Land Use on Hurricane-Harvey-Induced Flooding in Houston Area
Land 2019, 8(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8020025 - 28 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Hurricane Harvey (2017) caused widespread flash flooding by extremely heavy rainfall and resulted in tremendous damage, including 82 fatalities and huge economic loss in the Houston, Texas area. To reduce hazards, loss, and to improve urban resilience, it is important to understand the [...] Read more.
Hurricane Harvey (2017) caused widespread flash flooding by extremely heavy rainfall and resulted in tremendous damage, including 82 fatalities and huge economic loss in the Houston, Texas area. To reduce hazards, loss, and to improve urban resilience, it is important to understand the factors that influence the occurrence of flooding events. People rely on natural resources and different land uses to reduce the severity of flood impacts and mitigate the risk. In this study, we focused the impacts of land use on Hurricane-Harvey-induced flooding inside and outside the Houston city center. With the recent trend that more citizen scientists serve in delivering information about natural disaster response, local residents in Houston areas participated in delineating the flooded areas in Hurricane Harvey. The flooding information used here generated a published map with citizen-contributed flooding data. A regional model framework with spatial autocovariates was employed to understand those interactions. Different land use patterns and types affected the potential of flooding events differently inside and outside Houston’s city center. Explicitly, we found agricultural and open space were associated with high risk of flooding outside the city center, industrial lands increased the high risk of flooding in city center, and residential areas reduced the potential of flooding both inside and outside the city center. The results can assist with future land use strategy in Houston and other areas, and mitigate potential flash flooding. This study also highlighted the contribution of citizen science to responses to natural hazards. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
People and Post-Mining Environments: PPGIS Mapping of Landscape Values, Knowledge Needs, and Future Perspectives in Northern Finland
Land 2018, 7(4), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7040151 - 05 Dec 2018
Abstract
Mining can have a notable environmental and social footprint both during the production phase and after the mine closure. We examined local stakeholders’ viewpoints on two post-mining areas in northern Finland, Hannukainen and Rautuvaara, using a public participation geographic information system (PPGIS) approach. [...] Read more.
Mining can have a notable environmental and social footprint both during the production phase and after the mine closure. We examined local stakeholders’ viewpoints on two post-mining areas in northern Finland, Hannukainen and Rautuvaara, using a public participation geographic information system (PPGIS) approach. Spatially explicit data on local residents’ and visitors’ values, knowledge needs, and future perspectives on mining landscapes were collected with an online map-based survey tool (Harava). The results show that post-mining sites were generally considered unpleasant places. A majority of respondents were of the opinion that areas would need better reclamation and landscaping measures. The landscape surrounding the post-mining sites contained a wide diversity of pleasant places with high nature and recreational value. Respondents addressed various environmental concerns related to the impacts of former mining activities on the quality of ground water and surface water, potential soil contamination, and the safety of natural products. Opinions on the planned mine reopening were strongly divided among the respondents. One of the key questions was whether a large open-pit mine and nature-based tourism can coexist in the same region. Our results highlight that “the shadow of the mine”—observed environmental impacts, uncertainties related to the spatial extent, duration, and magnitude of impacts, and knowledge gaps—can affect local stakeholders’ land use far outside the mining sites and long after the mine closure. Identifying and mapping stakeholder values, opinions, and knowledge needs could significantly improve post-mining land use planning and mitigate the loss of multifunctional landscapes. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media Data for Socio-Environmental Systems Research
Land 2019, 8(7), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8070107 - 04 Jul 2019
Abstract
Social media data provide an unprecedented wealth of information on people’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors at fine spatial and temporal scales and over broad extents. Social media data produce insight into relationships between people and the environment at scales that are generally prohibited [...] Read more.
Social media data provide an unprecedented wealth of information on people’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors at fine spatial and temporal scales and over broad extents. Social media data produce insight into relationships between people and the environment at scales that are generally prohibited by the spatial and temporal mismatch between traditional social and environmental data. These data thus have great potential for use in socio-environmental systems (SES) research. However, biases in who uses social media platforms, and what they use them for, create uncertainty in the potential insights from these data. Here, we describe ways that social media data have been used in SES research, including tracking land-use and environmental changes, natural resource use, and ecosystem service provisioning. We also highlight promising areas for future research and present best practices for SES research using social media data. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Back to TopTop