Stakeholder Perceptions of Invasive Species and Participatory Remote Sensing in the Galapagos Islands

  • Laura BrewingtonEmail author
Part of the Social and Ecological Interactions in the Galapagos Islands book series (SESGI)


Novel methods for combining physical and social science research programs can integrate traditional research methods, stakeholder engagement, and environmental management. This chapter applies a participatory remote sensing approach to evaluate stakeholder perceptions of the presence of invasive plant species on Isabela Island, in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. An exercise on classification and change detection was carried out with agricultural landowners and employees of the Galapagos National Park Service, using photographs of different types of land cover commonly observed in the highland agricultural zone and surrounding National Park. Photos corresponded to GPS-validated locations within the spatial footprint of high-resolution satellite images from 2004 to 2010. Stakeholder classifications of remotely sensed imagery reveal competing accounts of the makeup of the land, with a high level of disagreement between the two (kappa = 0.39). An analysis of “shared” guava coverage and other introduced vegetation highlights key regions of agreement and divergence in land cover, land change, and land use—especially along the boundary between the farmland and the National Park. Change detection of landowner classifications showed a 19% decrease in guava within the National Park between 2004 and 2010, while the National Park Service employees perceived a 62% increase in the same region. Stakeholder perceptions of the Isabela highlands also differ qualitatively, where current environmental management initiatives focused on the consequences, rather than the causes, of species invasion. The results of this study provide compelling arguments for using participatory research methods as a tool to directly engage stakeholders in the research process and reconcile visions of productivity or degradation in shared spaces for conservation and economic activities.


Galapagos Islands Invasive species Participatory mapping Protected areas Remote sensing 



The author is grateful to the participants from Isabela Island who contributed to this work. The Inter-American Foundation provided funding for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.East-West CenterHonoluluUSA

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