Local parks are many things to many people. They act as safe havens for children to play, open spaces for dogs (and their owners) to socialise, training grounds for would-be athletes, places of escape for office-workers and communal gardens for apartment-dwellers. They also perform a vital role as a network of green spaces and corridors that allow birds, insects and other wildlife to spread and thrive. So how do you put a price on all that? Fields in Trust, a charity that champions and protects our green spaces, has done just that, through a detailed piece of research. The answer is a huge £34 billion and the details behind this are fascinating…
The research report, called Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, aims to change perceptions by establishing the value that parks and green spaces contribute to health and wellbeing rather than simply judging them by what they cost to maintain. It comes as Fields in Trust (with its President, HRH The Duke of Cambridge) launches a new five-year strategy with the aim of protecting parks for future generations.
The £34 billion of wellbeing benefits are a result of people enjoying greater life satisfaction including both improved physical and mental health, directly as a result of using regularly using parks and green spaces. The research demonstrates NHS savings of at least £111 million per year. This figure is based solely on prevented GP visits and doesn't include savings from non-referrals for treatment or prescriptions - meaning the actual savings to the taxpayer will be significantly higher. The report calculates that parks provide a total economic value to each person in the UK of more than £30 per year and that a person would need to personally spend £974 each year to achieve the same level of life satisfaction they get from parks if they were not there.
The Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces research is the first time wellbeing benefits associated with parks and green spaces have been calculated so comprehensively, specifically using HM Treasury approved welfare weighting methodology.
Helen Griffiths, Chief Executive of Fields in Trust, said: "This report clearly demonstrates the economic and wellbeing benefits that parks and green spaces bring to people across the UK. At a time when parks and green spaces are under threat this is valuable evidence that the loss of green space is hugely damaging to people's welfare.
"The research also confirms that any decision by a public body to remove a park or green space is completely short-sighted – and will in fact likely cost more money than is saved. The evidence is now clear: green spaces are good, they do good and they need to be protected for good. That's why as part of our new strategy Fields in Trust is committing itself to protecting more green spaces, so that people up and down our country, both now and in the future, can continue to benefit from them."
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20 May 2018