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Frontiers of Biogeography

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Devising a method to remotely model and map the distribution of natural landscapes in Europe with the greatest recreational amenity value (cultural services)

  • Author(s): Long, Peter R.;
  • Nogué, Sandra;
  • Benz, David;
  • Willis, Katherine J.
  • et al.

With a growing emphasis on the societal benefits gained through recreation outdoors, a method is needed to identify which spaces are most valuable for providing those benefits. Social media platforms offer a wealth of useful information on where people prefer to enjoy the outdoors. We combined geotagged images from Flickr with several environmental metrics in a Maxent model to calculate the probability of a photograph being taken (the potential supply of recreational amenity). We then built a set of population density kernels to express the potential demand of recreational amenity. Linear regression was used to compare supply and demand layers to visitation records from 540 recreation sites across Europe. The result was a map estimating the number of visitors/km2/year. Our analysis showed that natural areas near population centres deliver more recreational benefit than attractive sites in remote locations. The former should therefore be prioritised by planners and policymakers seeking to protect or improve recreational amenity.

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