The idea of green space across the globe varies greatly depending on the perception of different individuals. "Green space is any vegetated land or water within or adjoining an urban area. This includes: green corridors, like paths, disused railway lines, rivers and canals, woods, grassed areas, parks, gardens, playing fields, children's play areas, cemeteries and allotments" (http://www.greenspacescotland.org.uk/default.asp?page=26). Olembo and Rham (1987) observed that psychologists, sociologists and people generally agree on the view that urban life quality has a relationship with the number and quality of green spaces within or close to it. Furthermore, Miyan Rukunuddin Ahmed (2003) stated that, green space improves psychological and ecological environment of urban population in addition to uplifting the economic situation of the community. Therefore, green space has the primary function of ensuring the provision of satisfactory scenery for social activities and recreation (Nilsson and Randrup, 1997).
The concept of the significance of green space, therefore, emphasises the relationship of green space with diverse human experiences in the use of green space. Hence, "experience such as encountering plants, landscapes and wilderness, in parks and neighbourhood green spaces may promote beneficial physiologically effects"( Mansor M. and Said I.). In order to assess the attitude of people towards the significance of green space; a self-administered questionnaires process was developed and piloted. The purpose of this study therefore, was to examine what individual's perception of green spaces were; how green spaces are utilised by different persons, establish the relationship between the use of green space and demographic characteristics such as religion, ethnicity, age and occupation, how accessibility and useful green spaces are to different individuals.
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The aim of this report is to highlight the assessment of variations in attitude of people to the significance of green space in Leicester.
The main objective of the study is to reveal the perception and response of inhabitants of Leicester City toward the value of green spaces.
The City of Leicester is a cosmopolitan city and is the 13th most populated city in England (Census 2001). Its cosmopolitan nature makes it unique as it has a high population of other ethnic groups apart from the English. Leicester has arrays of green spaces amongst which are: Abbey Park, Aylestone Hall Gardens, Aylestone Meadows, Beaumont Park, Bede Park, Braunstone Park, Castle Gardens, Castle Hill Country Park and Evington Park amongst others.
Figure 1: An example of Green Space. (Adopted from: http://www.fab.utm.my/download/ConferenceSemiar/Habitat-Magazine.pdf ).
Figure 2 shows the flow chat of the methodology used for the study.
Determine of Feasibility
Development of Questionnaire
Selection of Sampling Method
Conducting of Pilot Test
Revision of Questionnaire
Preparation of Report
Figure 2: Flow Chat of the Study.
The study conducted interviews on people at the Leicester City centre bus stops using questionnaires designed for that purpose. Twenty respondents were to be interviewed, however; only 18 respondents (11 males and 7 females) from different ethnic, demographic and socio-economic background were surveyed. The respondents were carefully selected, firstly, by stratified sampling (ensuring selection of males and females) in which 5 bus stops were identified for the survey. Thereafter, random sampling which is one of the purest forms of probability sampling (Walonick, D. S. 2010) was used for selection. Though, this was slightly affected as the start time for the administration of the questionnaires spilled into the rush hour. The plan for each group member to remain at a particular bus stop and administer the questionnaires was not possible as some of the would-be participants declined to respond. Therefore, group members decided to locate respondents from alternative bus stops. The groups' aim was finally achieved this way. Interviews were conducted casually with participants on the spot, each lasting about 10 minutes or thereabout for each respondent.
The finalised questionnaire is enclosed as Appendix 1 while Appendix 2 is a sample of the questionnaire used to conduct the interview. Some of the questions of the previous questionnaire had to be changed as it was obvious that answers to them could be predicted. It is recommended that the sampling strategy for the questionnaire remains stratified sampling because it reduces sampling error (Walonick, D. S. 2010).
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The questionnaire has array of questions which require gaps applicable to respondents to be filled, yes or no sections to be ticked and series of choice of answers to be selected within a question. Therefore, the proposed coding for the questionnaire is as follows:
Question 1: 5 points for responding and no point for not responding.
Question 2: 5 points for responding and no point for not responding.
Question 3: 5 points for responding and no point for not responding.
Question 4: 5 points for YES and no point for NO/no responce.
Question 5: 5 points for responding and no point for not responding.
Question 6: 5 points for responding and no point for not responding.
Question 7: 5 points for Very Good, 4 points for Good, 3 points for Poor, 2 points for Very Poor, 1 point for Neutral and no point for not responding.
Question 8: 5 points for responding and no point for not responding.
Question 9: 5 points for Very Happy, 4 points for Happy, 3 points for Unhappy, 2 points for Very Unhappy, 1 point for Neutral and no point for not responding.
Question 10: 5 points for responding and no point for not responding.
The questionnaire was designed in such a way that it addresses the objective of the study, as well-defined objectives are the foremost point to consider in order to get a well-designed questionnaire (Walonick, D. S. 2010). It became considerably easier to design the questionnaire because the objectives were clear and how the information was to be used was determined. Care was taken to ask only questions that have relevance to the study objective and they were made short and inviting in order not to get the respondents bored. A well written cover letter accompanied the questionnaire in order to persuade the respondents to act positively while a clear instruction on how to complete the questionnaire was highlighted immediately after the title. Effort was made to ensure that questions were grouped coherently.
Lessons Learnt through Piloting
The piloting of the questionnaire was to be carried out as planned during the week days and outside rush hours. However, this was not possible as the ethical approval was granted late. Hence, the piloting had to take place on Saturday, 12 March 2011 from 1.00p.m.. Leicester City centre bus stop was the location where the questionnaires were administered to respondents for this study. On commencing the piloting, it was initially difficult to get respondents as many declined from taking part. This situation created some concerns to the piloting group. Consequently, time was wasted and the piloting did not commence as planned, as a result the piloting spilled over to the rush hour. In addition, the group was unable to achieved its aim of getting each group member to administer the questionnaires at appointed bus stops thereby obstructing the planned stratified sampling (random selection of 2 males and 2 females per group member). Furthermore, 10% of the questionnaires were not completed thereby leavening only 90% for the study.
It was observed that respondents tended to conceal their occupation and post codes. When asked why, some said it was personal to them while others kept mute. Also, people of the lower age group (16-25) were observed to respond favourably to the request to participate. On the whole, it was evident that all respondents visit parks daily, weekly, monthly, 6 monthly and yearly and everyone enjoys the time h/she spent using parks. In general, the lessons learnt are:
The need to pilot a questionnaire before it is finally delivered.
A researcher may not always have the time to achieve his aim as planned.
Respondent could decline to participate in the study.
Some of the questions could be left unanswered for one reason or the other.
Sampling method could change as a result of the behaviour of respondents.
All respondents may not turn in their questionnaires.
The need to eliminate questions that do not yield usable data.
The need to prepare a finalised questionnaire.
Expected Result Based on the Piloting
The perception of respondents towards the significance of green space became clear after the piloting. Almost all respondents had similar perception and attitude towards the significance of green space irrespective of ethnic, demography and socio-economic background, as they all visit green space. For instance, when asked why they visit parks, the responses were as follows; Exercise - 22%, Sports - 11%, Relaxation - 78%, Recreation 11%, Social Activities - 17%, Reflection/Remembrance - 6%, Children/Pet Play - 22% and Other - 17%. Figure 3 depicts these values in a bar chart. Another question was; what the respondents thought of the idea of having a park in any community and the responses were as follows: Very Good - 56%, Good - 33%, Poor - 0, Very Poor - 0 and Neutral - 11%. Figure 4 depicts these values in a bar chart.
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Figure 3: Statistics of why respondents visit parks.
Figure 4: Statistics of what respondents thought about the idea of having a park in any community.
Similarly, the respondents answered most of the other questions in the same approach as can be seen in Appendix 2. Therefore, the perception of people towards the significance of green space is clear and their attitude positive. Hence, based on this, the result of the questionnaire administration will be positive.
This study was aimed at assessing the variations in attitude of people to the significance of green space in Leicester. To achieve this, questionnaire were produced and piloted with the aim of getting responses that would aid the production of a final questionnaire. The questionnaire was reproduced and coded. Subsequently, lessons were leant in the course of piloting and these would help in guiding against future occurrence of such. From the result of the pilot, it was deduced that the perception of people towards the significance of green space is clear and their attitude positive. Hence, based on this, the result of the questionnaire administration will be positive.
Green Space Scotland. http://www.greenspacescotland.org.uk/default.asp?page=26
Miyan Rukunuddin Ahmed (2003). Peoples' Perception Toward Value of Urban Green Space. Quebec City Canada.
Nilsson, K. and Randrup, T. B. (1997). Urban and Peri-Urban Forestry. In Proceeding of the XI World Forestry Congress, Vol 1: 97 - 110.
Olembo, R. J. and Rham, P. D. (1987). Urban Forestry in two Different Worlds. Unasylva, 39(155): 26-35.
Mansor M. and Said I. Diversity of Green Infrastructure Network and Cognitive Well-being of Urban Residents.
Population Census (2001). http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/population/cities.htm
Walonick, D. S. (2010). A Selection from Survival Statistics. StatPac, Inc., Bloomington.
Participant Information and Informed Consent Form
This questionnaire is part of a study being conducted by Taught Post-graduate students of the Department of Geography, University of Leicester. It is aimed at assessing the importance of public parks to different people in Leicester. All the information provided in this questionnaire will be kept anonymous and stored with utmost confidentiality and erased at the end of the term on 1 April 2011. You reserve the right to ask questions and any other inquiries with regards to this information you have provided. For further information, please contact
Ibrahim Ahmadu, email - firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile - 07407236505.
I confirm that I have read and understand the information sheet for the study described in the participant information sheet, and that I have had the opportunity to ask questions.
I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I
am free to withdraw from the study at any time, and I do not have to give a reason for this.
3. I agree to take part in the study described in the participant information sheet.
Name of Participant Date Signature
Name of Researcher Date Signature
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GREEN SPACE IN LEICESTER
Please, tick and fill-in the spaces as applicable to questions.
Gender: Maleâ-¡ Femaleâ-¡
Age: 16-25â-¡ 26-35â-¡ 36-45â-¡ 46-55â-¡ 56 & overâ-¡
Any other â-¡
White Other â-¡
How often do you visit the following parks?
Aylestone Hall Gardens
Castle Hill Country Park
Spinney Hill Park
Western Park/New park
Nelson Mandela Park
Monks Rest Gardens
Rushey Fields Recreation Ground
Shady Lane Arboretum
Watermead Country Park South
2. Why do you visit parks?
Exerciseâ-¡ Sportsâ-¡ Relaxationâ-¡ Recreationâ-¡ Social Activitiesâ-¡
Reflection/ Remembranceâ-¡ Children/ Pet Playâ-¡ Othersâ-¡
3. Do you think there are enough parks where you live?
4. Amongst the parks you visit/use, do you prefer some to others?
5. What influences the choice of the parks you visit most?
Tidinessâ-¡ Appearanceâ-¡ Public Safetyâ-¡ Facilityâ-¡ Accessibilityâ-¡ Distanceâ-¡ Securityâ-¡ Othersâ-¡
6. How far are you prepared to travel to parks?
Under 1 mile
2 - 3 miles
4 - 5 miles
6 miles &over
7. What do you think of the idea of having a park in any community?
Very Goodâ-¡ Goodâ-¡ Poorâ-¡ Very Poorâ-¡ Neutralâ-¡
8. What are the good/bad points of parks?
9. How would you feel if some parks in your community were to be closed?
Very Happyâ-¡ Happyâ-¡ Unhappyâ-¡ Very Unhappyâ-¡ Neutralâ-¡