Using crowd-sourced photos to assess seasonal patterns of visitor use in mountain-protected areas

Abstract

Managing protected areas effectively requires information about patterns of visitor use, but these data are often limited. We explore how geotagged photos on Flickr, a popular photo-sharing social-media site, can generate hotspot maps and distribution models of temporal and spatial patterns of use in two mountain-protected areas of high conservation value. In Aconcagua Provincial Park (Argentina), two routes to the summit of Aconcagua were used in summer, but most visitors stayed close to the main road, using formal and informal walking trails and the Visitor Centre, while in winter, there was very limited visitation. In Kosciuszko National Park (Australia), alpine walking trails were popular in summer, but in winter, most visitors stayed in the lower altitude ski resorts and ski trails. Results demonstrate the usefulness of social-media data alone as well as a complement for visitor monitoring, providing spatial and temporal information for site-specific and park-level management of visitors and potential impacts in conservation areas.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Ruben Massarelli from Aconcagua Provincial Park who provided us with visitor statistics for the park and Dirección de Recursos Naturales Renovables, Mendoza, for providing the GIS layers for Aconcagua. We also thank Tim Greenville, Pamela O’Brien, and Anthony Evans for providing traffic counter location data and information regarding visitor use patterns in Kosciuszko National Park. Thank you also to Will Dorrington for providing GIS layers for Kosciuszko National Park, and Christopher Darlington for providing data on visitor use of the alpine area in the park.

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Correspondence to Chelsey Walden-Schreiner.

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Walden-Schreiner, C., Rossi, S.D., Barros, A. et al. Using crowd-sourced photos to assess seasonal patterns of visitor use in mountain-protected areas. Ambio 47, 781–793 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1020-4

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Keywords

  • Aconcagua Provincial Park
  • ALPINE
  • Geotagged photos
  • Informal trails
  • Kosciuszko National Park
  • MaxEnt modelling