On the merits and pitfalls of introducing a digital platform to aid conservation management: Volunteer data submission and the mediating role of volunteer coordinators

Koen Arts*, Yolanda Melero, Gemma Webster, Nirwan Sharma, Nava Tintarev, Elizabeth Tait, Christopher Mellish, Somayajulu Sripada, Ann Marie MacMaster, Hollie Sutherland, Chris Horrill, Xavier Lambin, René van der Wal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Against a backdrop of accelerating digital innovation in nature conservation and environmental management, a real-world experiment was conducted with the research aims of assessing: 1) the effects of introducing a digital data-entry platform on volunteer data submission; and 2) the extent to which coordinators influence digital platform use by their volunteers. We focussed on a large-scale volunteer-based initiative aimed at eradicating the non-native American mink (Neovison vison) from northern Scotland. This geographically dispersed conservation initiative adopted a digital platform that allowed volunteers to submit records to a central database. We found that the platform had a direct and positive effect on volunteer data submission behaviour, increasing both the number and frequency of submissions. However, our analysis revealed striking differences in coordinator engagement with the platform, which in turn influenced the engagement of volunteers with this centrally introduced digital innovation. As a consequence, the intended organisation-wide rolling out of a digital platform translated into a diversely-implemented innovation, limiting the efficacy of the tool and revealing key challenges for digital innovation in geographically-dispersed conservation initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110497
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume265
Early online date8 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Environmental citizen science
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Invasive species control
  • Technological innovation
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Volunteer-based management
  • QUALITY
  • ORGANIZATIONAL ORIENTATIONS
  • INFORMATION
  • INNOVATION
  • CITIZEN SCIENCE
  • PROVISION
  • PARTICIPATION
  • COMMUNICATION
  • DETECT
  • MOTIVATIONS

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