Participatory methods: Transect Walk

Following posts about Ground Mapping and Sketch Mapping I would like to present another fairly easy method called Transect Walk. Transect Mapping/Transect Walk is a method that uses controlled “walks” in the community and collects spatial information, which may include geographic features, information on land use, information on vegetation strips, social aspects, etc. This method is suitable for the analysis of patterns of land use, but provides only limited information about the area. An important part of the method is discussion and active listening, identification of problems and their solutions.

Participants will walk through the random or predetermined routes or areas in the community, discuss and write down what they see around them. Besides the narrative section Transect waů allows participants to identify gaps and opportunities in different areas / zones. The output can be a map or list of individual elements identified during the field survey (de Zeeuw & Wilbers, 2004; Intercooperation, 2005; Panek, 2013). If participants record which way they went (either on the map or using GPS), this can then be used to assess which areas of the community are cover and why?

Difficulty: Easy

Group size: medium – up to 50 participants (otherwise split into several smaller groups)

Time required: 2-3 hours (including discussion)

Links to other methods: Typically, you can use this method as follow-up for the Ground mapping or Sketch mapping. It may also be a method that will be followed by for example Scale mapping.

The aim of this method is to collect and visualize spatial information and knowledge of the individual members of the group with regard to their personal perception of space and the use of the site. Visualization takes place as a non-map form – the form of transect diagram. This is a group work, which however can be divided into several smaller groups (division may be accidental, but intentional). Subsequent discussion when results of individual groups can serve as a good introduction for the next steps in solving spatial problems in the community.

History and Present

Transect walk is often used in the study of biodiversity (Walpole & Sheldon, 1999), but through Participatory Rural Appraisal (Chambers, 1994), it was introduced to the area of ​​community mapping (Mahir, 1998).

The biggest advantage of this method is description of the real situation on the ground through the recording of the actual situation as sections (transects) or maps (mostly the diagram). Similar to the outputs from Ground mapping or Sketch mapping, the output is not georeferenced and it is hard to present results outside the community because it contains a large number of subjective feelings and observations.

A disadvantage may be that due to the fact that the resulting product is not a map (but diagram) and is not in any scale, it is difficult to subtract and exact values from it​​. On the other hand it is possible to work with the information contained in the record of the Transect mapping or with route, which was passed by the group.


  1. Clearly define the scope of the area.
  2. Define Transect mapping method – random or chosen walking direction.
  3. Select the appropriate start point – ideally in the center of the study area.
  4. Invite the selected group to the meeting place or public meeting.
  5. Present the idea and method of mapping and explain why it is the most appropriate method chosen and how the results will be used further.
  6. Explain the rules Transect Walk.
  7. Provide plenty of time for the group to walk their territory and to recorde their observations.
  8. Process/record information arising from different walks and group discussions.

Resources and tools

  • The area where each group will be based.
  • Sufficient material for scraps during the walk.
  • GPS in case you want to accurately record each route.
  • Paper for notes – refers to the facilitator.


Rules Transect WALK according Catalytic Communities (2014).

  1. Clarify goals.
  2. Select a region and time frame (how much time you devote to mapping).
  3. Agree on what you observe and record – the level of detail.
  4. Agree on walking routes fro individual members/groups.
  5. Take time to talk to people!
  6. Analyse created diagrams.
  7. Think about possible solutions.
  8. All materials belong community!

Examples experiences, literature, etc.

Catalytic Communities. (2014). Community Mapping through Transect Walks. Retrieved July 10, 2014th

De Zeeuw, H., & Wilbers, J. (2004). PRA tools for studying urban agriculture and gender.

Debord, G. (1958). Theory of the derivative. Internationale Situationniste, 2, 50-54.

Chambers, R. (1994). The origins and practice of participatory rural appraisal. World Development, 22 (7), 953-969.

Intercooperation. (2005). Participatory monitoring and evaluation Field Experiences. Hyderabad: Intercooperation; Delegation – India.

Mahir, I. (1998). Comparing transect walks with experts and local people. PLA Notes, (31), 4 to 8

Panek, J. (2013). Participatory mapping as a tool for community development – a case study Koffiekraal, South Africa. Geographic Perspectives, Appendix 1 (25) 2-5.

Walpole, M. J., & Sheldon, I. R. (1999). Sampling butterflies in tropical rainforest: an evaluation of a transect walk method. Biological Conservation, 87 (1), 85-91.


2 thoughts on “Participatory methods: Transect Walk

  1. Thank you so much for these articles about different participatory methods! I’m looking forward to implementing them in my community. Keep up the great work!

    Best Regards,


  2. Pingback: Participatory methods: GPS Mapping | geoparticipation

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