Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Mapping the social values of ecosystem services to support better decision making

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posted on 2021-07-11, 22:01 authored by Sedigheh Mousavipour

Social values of ecosystem services are the perceived benefits of natural ecosystems for the well-being of people. For sustainable land management, social values and preferences need to be integrated into land-use decision-making. Existing methods of social value capture commonly use participatory mapping and deliberative mapping. However, social media data has recently contributed to the gathering of spatial social value data. By reducing the time and cost of mapping, social media may be effective in social value mapping. However, the credibility of this data source has rarely been assessed for land planning.

This thesis critically analysed the results of social media-based mapping (passive Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI)) and deliberative mapping (expert-based evaluation) methods into providing credible social value data (recreation, aesthetics, and historical/cultural values) for recreation planning. We analysed the content of 4642 photographs uploaded to Flickr as passive VGI and the results of an online survey and face to face interview for expert-based evaluation. This thesis found both the passive VGI and expert-based evaluation could identify all three types of relevant social values for ecosystem services (recreation, aesthetics, and historical/cultural).

Passive VGI can provide reasonably reliable information on the recreational preferences of people at the time that data is provided. Although social values identified in expert-based evaluation included useful information about current public preferences and a potential supply of recreation ecosystem services, it only captured a general view of the study area. Large areas of interest were provided by each of the experts participating in the online survey. Several landscape units were missed by passive VGI while expert-based dataset overrepresented a majority of landscape units.

The results of this research demonstrated that spatial social value data are limited when a single method is applied. Potential users of such data need to understand their limitations. Applying several mapping methods (PPGIS, expert-based evaluation, passive VGI, etc.) may create a more useful and credible social value dataset to appropriately support recreational planning.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline

Environmental Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Geographic Information Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


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