Väiski presenting in FCAI

Super interesting work using computer vision methods for exploring geotagged photos from national parks forthcoming in Conservation Biology! Stay tuned.

Social media data for urban green space studies – new paper out in Landscape and urban planning!

In a recent article published in the Landscape and Urban Planning journal we compare the ability of different user-generated data sets to provide information on where, when and how people use and value urban green spaces. We compare four types of data: social media, sports tracking, mobile phone operator and public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) data in a case study from Helsinki, Finland, and ask: 1) where the spatial hot-spots of green space use are, 2) when people use green spaces, 3) what activities are present in green spaces and 4) who are using green spaces based on available sample data sets.


Read the full blog post in the Digital Geography Lab blog:

A new paper on understanding the use of urban green spaces from user-generated data

New websites for the Digital Geography Lab and HELICS

This blog is the central hub for news related to the Social Media Data for Conservation Science project at the Universirt of Helsinki (2016-2020).

For most recent activities in the broader group, check out the following resources:

Digital Geography Lab:

The Helsinki Lab of Interdisciplinary Conservation Science (HELICS):



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: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.268

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: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.023. 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: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.023
Link to the press release: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/news/science-news/understanding-human-nature-interactions-using-social-media-data

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: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/digital-geography-lab/eccb2018-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 https://peerageofscience.org/conference/eccb2018/107849/
Anna Hausmann Assessing global tourism visitation of Important Bird Areas by using social media data https://bit.ly/2l2W9TJ
Enrico Di Minin Social media data for conservation science and practice https://bit.ly/2sRFfvz
Christoph Fink Uncovering Illegal Wildlife Trade on Social Media https://bit.ly/2sRqZTP
Johanna Eklund Protected area effectiveness and management indicators do not correlate: what are we doing wrong? https://bit.ly/2l2pD4i
Atte Moilanen The twelve operationally important decisions in offsetting: why biodiversity offsets may fail https://bit.ly/2t10muN
Joel Jalkanen Identifying Large Ecological Networks with Spatial Conservation Prioritization Methods to Benefit Regional Land-use Planning https://bit.ly/2HHy51Q
Tuuli Toivonen Experiences in sharing research data and methods in conservation science https://bit.ly/2HFs6dO


Name Title Link to abstract
Anna Haukka A literature review on legal hunting practises https://bit.ly/2JIiDUE

Verónica Etchebarne Palla

Developing a rapid assessment tool to promote voluntary private land conservation in productive landscapes https://bit.ly/2HGHjLL


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: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/digital-geography-lab/eccb2018-workshop

Our team members are visiting South Africa!

Enrico Di Minin, Christoph Fink, Anna Hausmann, Gonzalo Cortes Capano and Veronica Etchebarne travelled all around South Africa in March for presenting recent work from the Social Media for Conservation Science project, the Illegal Wildlife Trade project and strategies for private land conservation. They presented their work to scientists and local managers and rangers who attended the Savanna Science Network Meeting, in Skukuza, Kruger National Park. They also organized a workshop on social media data for conservation science and practice with a focus on illegal wildlife trade and conservation marketing at the South African National Biodiversity Institute in Pretoria, where a rich and diverse group of experts from Universities, NGOs (e.g. WWF South Africa, Traffic), Government and more, attended the discussion.

All in all, they had a fruitful networking with local stockholders which will help mainstreaming social media data use in conservation science through co-creation!


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:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.13104/full
Lnk to press release: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/news/science/using-artificial-intelligence-to-investigate-illegal-wildlife-trade-on-social-media