Behaviour Observation Studies

As part of the Thriving Green Spaces Project, we are doing behaviour observation and mapping studies in five parks in Edinburgh:

  • Inch Park
  • Inverleith Park
  • Leith Links
  • Saughton Park
  • West Pilton Park.

We are looking for volunteers to help us carry out these studies.

By volunteering, you can help us analyse the use of Edinburgh’s parks while walking through your local park.

This will help us improve the parks and strengthen any bids for funding. For example, behaviour observation studies helped us secure Heritage Lottery Funding for the renovation of Saughton Park.

What is Behaviour Observation?

Behaviour observation and mapping is a systematic method to understand how people use an area. It involves:

  • visiting the site during a specific time
  • putting the location of people observed onto site maps – digitally or on paper
  • noting down the anonymised characteristics of people into an observation log.

This data is then used to analyse the use of the site.

Why are these studies important?

The behaviour observation studies aim to determine:

  • How people use the selected parks in Edinburgh
  • how certain areas are used by whom
  • the activities happening on the site
  • user characteristics (age, gender, social context, such as walking a dog, picnicking, and so on.).

These studies will help analyse the use of parks better and can be used in decision-making processes.

They also have the potential to document the changes in the use of parks over time, including as a result of any changes to the parks.

What is expected from volunteers?

Anyone interested can be a volunteer, and no prior experience is required.

To make the behaviour observation studies easier to do, we divide parks into observation zones, and then set observation points within each zone.

As a volunteer, you need to go to each observation points in turn and note down the location of people you observe and certain characteristics. You use an app on a mobile phone, or a pen and paper form with a map to guide you.

Volunteers can take photos and add additional notes through the behaviour observation app. However, you should not provide any material or information that identifies individual people (also known as personal data).

How much time will I spend if I volunteer?

One round around a park would take around one hour, depending on the number of people on the site.

There will be observation sessions planned at different times of day, during weekdays and weekends. Volunteers can select a session according to their availability.

You can be a volunteer for as many sessions as you like.

Before the observation sessions, there will be optional information sessions. Volunteers can attend these to learn more about the process and to raise their questions.

How can I volunteer?

If you would like to volunteer, please fill out the form at . We will contact you with further details. For any questions, please e-mail to