Volunteered Geographical Information and Recreational Uses within Metropolitan and Rural Contexts

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Data obtained through Volunteered Geographical Information (VGI) have gradually been used to monitor and support planning mainly in urban contexts. Regarding recreational activities in peri-urban green and natural areas, VGI has been used to map, measure use intensity, profile users, and evaluate their preferences and motivations. Given their extensive use, it is now worthwhile to assess the value of VGI data to (1) compare recreational uses, profile users and map recreational activities in different contexts (metropolitan vs. rural areas), and (2) evaluate outdoor and adventure tourist products such as Grand Routes (GR). Data from former GPSies (AllTrails nowadays), one of the most popular web-share services, were used to assess recreational uses in Lisbon Metropolitan Area (LMA) and southwest Portugal (SWPT). A set of 22,031 tracks of “on foot” and “on wheels” activities, submitted by 3297 national and foreign users, covering 12 years, was analysed within a GIS modelling environment. Results indicate that, although there are many more submissions in the LMA, the influence of foreigners in the SWPT is higher (11% vs. 19%). The existing GR in SWPT concentrates the foreign use for hiking (71% of foreign vs. 28% of national users), demonstrating its attractiveness. For the favourite activity in both areas—Mountain biking—results show a higher spatial dispersion, yet part of the activity in SWPT still conforms to the GR (16% of foreign and 20% of national use). This study proves other applications for VGI, showing its usefulness for assessing recreational uses in both metropolitan and rural areas. Spatial knowledge about recreational uses is a valuable tool to evaluate and monitor such activities, and to know what users like to do, and where, and is also useful information when designing recreational products considering their tourist potential, thus adding value to these offers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number144
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2022


  • outdoor activities
  • volunteered geographical information
  • GIS (geographical information systems)
  • grand routes


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