Social Media for Conservation Science


In the somecon-project (social media for conservation science , 2016-2020), we aim to understand if and how geospatial social media data could be used to support conservation science and practice, with a special focus on key biodiversity areas, national parks and local communities. Our goal is to develop generic methods to extract information on human activity patterns from various social media platforms in orded to gain understanding on threats and opportunities for conservation at national and continental scales. The work is done in close collaboration with national park authorities in Finland (Metsähallitus) and South Africa (South African National Parks). In addition to the scientific advancements, we will produce invaluable information about park visitors, their spatio-temporal patterns and preferences for the park authorities.

More about the project in the Somecon-blog:


Project publications


Toivonen, T., Heikinheimo, V., Fink, C., Hausmann, A., Hiippala, T., Järv, O., Tenkanen, H., Di Minin, E. (2019). Social media data for conservation science: a methodological overview. Biological Conservation, 233, 298–315.

Hausmann, A., Toivonen, T., Fink, C., Heikinheimo, V., Tenkanen, H., Butchart, S., Brooks, T. & Di Minin, E. (2019). Assessing global popularity and threats to Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas using social media dataScience of the Total Environment, , vol. 683, pp. 617-623.

Hausmann, A., Toivonen, T., Slotow, R., Tenkanen, H., Moilanen, A., Heikinheimo, V., & Di Minin, E. (2018). Social Media Data Can Be Used to Understand Tourists’ Preferences for Nature-Based Experiences in Protected Areas. Conservation Letters.

Tenkanen, H., Di Minin, E., Heikinheimo, V., Hausmann, A., Herbst, M., Kajala, L., & Toivonen, T. (2017). Instagram, Flickr, or Twitter: Assessing the usability of social media data for visitor monitoring in protected areas. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 17615.

Hausmann, A., Toivonen, T., Heikinheimo, V., Tenkanen, H., Slotow, R., & Di Minin, E. (2017). Social media reveal that charismatic species are not the main attractor of ecotourists to sub-Saharan protected areas. Scientific Reports, 7(1).

Heikinheimo, V., Di Minin, E., Tenkanen, H., Hausmann, A., Erkkonen, J., & Toivonen, T. (2017). User-Generated Geographic Information for Visitor Monitoring in a National Park: A Comparison of Social Media Data and Visitor Survey. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information, 6(3).

Di Minin, E., Tenkanen, H., & Toivonen, T. (2015). Prospects and challenges for social media data in conservation science. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 3, 63.