The Value of Green Space Reaches a Premium
03 June 2011
A major new study by The UK National Ecosystems Assessment (NEA) aims to put a price tag on a range of economic, health and social benefits provided by the natural world, which are usually taken for granted, to make the financial case for protecting nature.
The assessment showed that in the past, the focus has been only on the market value of resources that can be exploited and sold, such as timber and food crops, while caring for the environment was seen as a cost.As a result, some habitats and resources have been allowed to decline and degrade.
But the report highlights the hidden value of nature, which is worth billions of pounds to the UK economy.
For example, the study shows that the health benefits of living with a view of green space are worth up to £300 per person per year while the amenity benefits of living close to rivers, lakes and the coast are worth up to £1.3 billion annually to the UK.
Paul Todd, Manager of Green Flag Award said: “We have known for a long time that there is an economic value attached to the presence of green space in an area and we welcome the assessments’ findings.”
In the future, climate change and increases in the UK population will put more pressure on habitats and natural resources.
But while people are beginning to recognise the value of resources that cannot be bought and sold, and provide incentives such as subsidies for wildlife-friendly farming, more comprehensive action needs to be taken to protect nature, the report said.
By flagging up the value of services such as views of urban parks and green spaces, it is hoped that developers will provide more natural areas in developments rather than simply increasing the density of housing.
The information in the assessment will help inform the forthcoming Natural Environment White Paper which ministers say will help revitalise towns and the countryside.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: "The natural world is vital to our existence, providing us with essentials such as food, water and clean air, but also other cultural and health benefits not always fully appreciated.
"The UK National Ecosystem Assessment is a vital step forward in our ability to understand the true value of nature and how to sustain the benefits it gives us."