Stress of spatial orientation of floating populations into Tibet on fragile ecosystem-using geo-tagged big data.

Published online
03 Apr 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Fan Jie & Liu HanChu & Sun ZhongRui & Yi JiaWei & Liu BaoYin & Chen Dong & Guo Rui & Sun Zhe & Zhao Hao
Contact email(s)

Publication language
China & Tibet


Increased global floating populations is an important driver of local social-ecological systems change, especially in ecologically fragile areas. However, the limitations of accurate data and specific methods have prevented the exploration of spatial visitation of floating populations and its risk of negative effects on fragile ecosystems. Here, we contribute to filling the knowledge gap in Tibet by adopting large-scale geolocation data and incorporating factors such as landscape aesthetic value, ecological vulnerability and traffic accessibility. We found that 89.97% of the digital footprints of floating populations in Tibet have entered nature areas with low density of resident population, and 40.57% of them have entered ecologically fragile areas, leading to increased ecological risks. Nature-based tourism is the main motive for floating populations to enter the ecologically fragile areas, accounting for 65.56%. The central government inadvertently exacerbated ecological risks by leading road construction, resulting in 64.62% of the ecological risks being located in areas with high traffic accessibility. The floating populations entering Tibet have the dual effects of promoting economic development and causing ecological risks. Therefore, it is urgent to put forward strategies to promote the sustainable development in Tibet based on the complex system of "nature-based tourism-ecological protection-economic income-government behavior". Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

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