iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Big data and evaluation of cultural ecosystem services: an analysis based on geotagged photographs from social media in Tuscan forest (Italy)

Iacopo Bernetti, Gherardo Chirici, Sandro Sacchelli   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 12, Issue 1, Pages 98-105 (2019)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2821-011
Published: Feb 11, 2019 - Copyright © 2019 SISEF

Research Articles

The paper presents a methodology to quantify the suitability of forest stands for the potential delivery of cultural ecosystem services (CES). The quantification of CES represents a complicated task in the framework of ecosystem service valuation. Compared to traditional investigations, focusing on the study of the aesthetic appreciation of a particular territory, the use of geotagged photographs seems to be a promising alternative to appraise CES. Thus, in order to analyse CES with a particular focus on the aesthetic appreciation of forest stands, this study exploits big data through the analysis of photos shared on the Flickr social network. Crowdsourced datasets are used to depict the geographic location and density of pictures - expressed as the number of photos per unit of surface - as well as their relationship to forest variables and logistic characteristics. The implemented geostatistical model is used to spatialise the results at the regional level (Tuscany forests, Italy). Among the outputs, high values of CES are stressed for high forest and protected areas. From a forest species viewpoint, silver fir, coastal Mediterranean pine, beech and mixed forests seem to be more appreciated compared to other stand typologies such as oaks (e.g., pubescent or Turkey oak) and thermophilic broad-leaved species. Additional quantitative parameters (e.g., elevation, biomass stock and distance to main roads) were significant to the CES assessment. The potential applications of the technique to support forest planning and management are discussed.


Forest Aesthetic Value, Social Network, Maximum Entropy Models, Tag-cloud, Geographic Information Systems

Authors’ address

Iacopo Bernetti
Gherardo Chirici
Sandro Sacchelli
Department of Agricultural, Food, Environment and Forestry, University of Florence, p.le delle Cascine 18, v. S. Bonaventura 13, Firenze (Italy)

Corresponding author

Sandro Sacchelli


Bernetti I, Chirici G, Sacchelli S (2019). Big data and evaluation of cultural ecosystem services: an analysis based on geotagged photographs from social media in Tuscan forest (Italy). iForest 12: 98-105. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2821-011

Academic Editor

Susanna Nocentini

Paper history

Received: Apr 19, 2018
Accepted: Nov 22, 2018

First online: Feb 11, 2019
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2019
Publication Time: 2.70 months

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