New publication about Important Bird Areas!

We are happy to share our most recent paper Assessing global popularity and threats to Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas using social media data (Hausmann et al. 2019) available open access in Science of The Total Environment.

This analysis looks into popularity and threats to Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs); we used social media data to assess global visitation rates, attractiveness and use pressure at IBAs worldwide.

We found that 17% of all IBAs under very high threat also received high visitation rates.

Results of this paper suggest which IBAs would benefit from enhanced monitoring to mitigate potential risks related to site visitation, and to make the most of the benefits of tourism for conservation.

This work, lead by Dr. Anna Hausmann, is a collaboration between researchers from the HELICS lab, Digital Geography Lab, the IUCN and BirdLife international.

Read more in the original paper:

the press releases:

and follow the discussion on Twitter:

Greetings from AAG, Washington D.C.!

Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) is the largest geography conference in the world featuring over 6000 presentations, sessions, panels, posters, corridor discussions etc.

This year, the meeting was organized in Washington D.C. April 3-7, 2019, right on time to see the beautiful cherry-blossom! The SoMeCon project and Digital Geography Lab were represented by Tuuli Toivonen, Vuokko Heikinheimo and Tuomas “Väiski” Väisänen – who is about to start his PhD in our group!

Tuuli participated in a panel discussing the usability of mobile big data from the point of view of social media data, and also presented recent work using mobile phone data for analyzing spatio-temporal population patterns in a session related to population statistics.

Väiski presented the results of his brilliant MSc thesis where he explored digital urban spaces trough English and Finnish Instagram posts from Helsinki. Social media provides a unique data source for studying linguistic landscapes in different languages.

Vuokko presented results from the Social Media for Conservation Science project in a session focusing on media and public parks. This presentation coincided nicely with the publication of our methodological paper in Biological Conservaion: Check out the press-release here.

All in all, AAG was a great opportunity to learn what are the hot topics currently among geographers, and to present our work to an international audience. Also, we got a true head start on Spring while exploring Washington D.C. on bikes!

You can find more short stories from AAG trough our twitter account @digigeolab and via the hashtags #AAGDC and #AAG2019.

New paper out in Biological Conservation

Social media data can help to understand the versatile human activities in and the preferences towards nature. There are several approaches for acquiring and analyzing these data which we present in our new paper “Social media data for conservation science: A methodological overview”. In particular, we

(i) describe what kind of relevant information can be retrieved from social media platforms
(ii) provide a detailed overview of advanced methods for spatio-temporal, content and network analyses
(iii) exemplify the potential of these approaches for real-world conservation challenges
(iv) discuss the limitations of social media data analysis in conservation science

We hope this paper is useful for conservation scientists and practitioners, as well as to others interested in studying human-nature interactions with novel data sources!

Link to the openaccess publication in Biological conservation:
Link to the press release:

Greetings from ECCB2018, Jyväskylä!

Greetings from the 5th European Con­gress of Con­ser­va­tion Bio­logy (ECCB), Jyväs­kylä, Fin­land!

Social media for conservation science, Inevstigating illegal wildlife trade, and other projects from our research lab are well represented at the ECCB 2018 congerss in Jyväskylä this week (11-15 June 2018). Below you can find details about the various activities and presentations from the members of our group and close collaborators!

WORKSHOP, Tuesday 12th: Ex­plor­ing the ad­vances in us­ing so­cial me­dia data for con­ser­va­tion sci­ence

More information about the workshop:


Name Title Link to abstract
Gonzalo Cortés Capano Landowners´ preferences, motivations and needs to inform voluntary private land conservation policy in a conservation priority area
Anna Hausmann Assessing global tourism visitation of Important Bird Areas by using social media data
Enrico Di Minin Social media data for conservation science and practice
Christoph Fink Uncovering Illegal Wildlife Trade on Social Media
Johanna Eklund Protected area effectiveness and management indicators do not correlate: what are we doing wrong?
Atte Moilanen The twelve operationally important decisions in offsetting: why biodiversity offsets may fail
Joel Jalkanen Identifying Large Ecological Networks with Spatial Conservation Prioritization Methods to Benefit Regional Land-use Planning
Tuuli Toivonen Experiences in sharing research data and methods in conservation science


Name Title Link to abstract
Anna Haukka A literature review on legal hunting practises

Verónica Etchebarne Palla

Developing a rapid assessment tool to promote voluntary private land conservation in productive landscapes


Workshop at ECCB 2018

WORKSHOP at the ECCB2018 in Jyväskylä:

Ex­plor­ing the ad­vances in us­ing so­cial me­dia data for con­ser­va­tion sci­ence

Tues­day, June 12, 2018
11am – 1pm
Room K309 “Gustaf”

We welcome everyone interested in working with social media big data in conservation to attend our workshop at the 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology in June.

During the workshop, we will discuss about the use of social media data in conservation. We will focus on: 1) potential applications of social media data analysis in conservation science, and 2) current gaps and advancements in methodology, knowledge, or data.

The workshop is organised by two interrelated research projects at the Digital Geography Lab, University of Helsinki: Social Media for Conservation Science (SOMECON) and Illegal Wildlife Trade on Social Media (IWT).

Workshop results are summarized at the Digital Geography Lab wepages:

New publication from the Illegal Wildlife Trade -project!

Efficient monitoring of illegal wildlife trade on social media is crucial for conserving biodiversity. The Illegal Wildlife Trade Project, led by Dr. Enrico Di Minin is working hard to develop new methods for monitoring illegal trade of wildlife products on social media. Read more in the new article published in Conservation Biology!

Link to full article:
Lnk to press release:


SomeCon in Cambridge 7 March 2018!

Social Media Data for Conservation Science project will be visiting Cambridge on March the 7th 2018. Associate professor Tuuli Toivonen will give a presentation about the recent work in the project and there is a possibility to discuss afterwards with group members Dr. Henrikki Tenkanen and Dr. Olle Järv.

Presentation: Exploring the possibilities of social media data for conservation science
Time: Wed 7th March 2018, 2.15-3.15pm
Weston Seminar Room, David Attenborough Building, Cambridge
Discussion: Common Room, 3.15-3.30pm



Please find the abstract behind this link!
For the latest news, find us on Twitter trough @SomeConRG and @digigeolab

Instagram, Flickr or Twitter? New research out from Finnish and South African National Parks!

Our new article Instagram, Flickr, or Twitter: Assessing the usability of social media data for visitor monitoring in protected areas compares social media usage and official visitor statistics from 56 national parks in Finland and South Africa.

The results of this article show that social media activity and park popularity are highly associated, even on a monthly level. When comparing the performance of different platforms, Instagram clearly outperforms the others.

The research was published in Scientific Reports on 14th December 2017. Read the full openaccess paper here:

Doctoral Defense of Henrikki Tenkanen 17.11.2017

MSc Henrikki Tenkanen will defend his thesis “Capturing time in space – Dynamic analysis of accessibility and mobility to support spatial planning with open data and tools” in the Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, on Friday 17th, November 2017 at noon.

The work consists of five scientific articles and a synthesis related to spatial and temporal patterns of accessibility and mobility. Chapter III  assesses the usability of different social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter or Flickr) for visitor monitoring in protected areas and the results are very interesting for conservation scientists and practitioners.

Professor Rober Weibel from University of Zurich will serve as the opponent in the event.The defense is a public event, and dissertation is available online here.

Henrikki Tenkanen: Capturing time in space

Time: Fri 17.11.2017 12:00-14:00

Place: Kumpula Campus, Physicum-building, Auditorio D101, Gustaf Hällströmin katu 2 A