Using mobile-phone technology to capture ecosystem service information

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Project summary

Ecosystem services (the contributions of nature to people) are globally important for human wellbeing and of high policy interest. However, despite innately being a social-ecological system, the ecosystem service literature is dominated by natural science. As such, ecosystem service research tends to focus on resource availability. MobilES seeks to address this by focusing on access and use of ecosystem services and how best to navigate associated pathways to resilience.

We focus our study on rural and urban systems within Cambodia. We use citizen science to investigate how migration theory can be incorporated into the ecosystem services approach to capture the movement of people to available resources, as well as the flow of resources to beneficiaries. Such ecosystem service flow will be a step-change from current ecosystem service models and maps.

Our citizen scientists will collect data using mobile-phone technology and this approach will be validated as part of the study design. Such an approach enables co-produced data to be collected via participatory approaches by drawing on the knowledge of local people. Furthermore, the mobile- phone methodology has potential to be scaled up, transforming ecosystem service (and other social science) research by creating ‘big data’ of high spatial-temporal resolution.

The aim of this research is to ensure that ecosystem service research contributes to and informs ongoing policy processes and facilitates the development of ecosystem service indicators for monitoring of human well-being and building pathways to resilience in Cambodia and beyond.

Our key research questions

  • How do ecosystem services flow to beneficiaries through social systems?
  • Which ecosystem services flow directly and/or indirectly to beneficiaries?
  • Does this vary between urban and rural systems?
  • Is the well-being of urban people less reliant on ecosystem services when compared to those in rural regions?
  • Does this reliance vary across different genders or different ecosystem services?


The Team | Funding | Our Case Study






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