Earlier this month we launched "Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces" our innovative research measuring the economic and wellbeing value that parks and green spaces contribute to individuals.
The research underpins our new strategy "Green Spaces for Good" which sets out how Fields in Trust champions and supports our parks and green spaces by protecting them for people to enjoy in perpetuity.
The ground-breaking new research demonstrates that parks and green spaces across the United Kingdom provide people with over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits. We are keen to share our research so, in separate events at the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament - on the same day - we have identified the value of parks and green spaces in both nations. In both Wales and Scotland policy on parks and green spaces management is a devolved matter – and each nation's legislators have addressed the issues and identified individual solutions in line with their local situations.
In Wales £1.6 billion of wellbeing benefits are directly attributable to people enjoying greater life satisfaction including both improved physical and mental health, directly as a result of using parks and green spaces. The research finds that parks and green spaces save the National Health Service in Wales at least £5.2 million per year; a figure is based solely on prevented GP visits, cost saving from non-referrals for treatment or prescriptions mean the actual benefit to the taxpayer will be significantly higher. Overall the research calculates that parks provide a total economic value to each person in Wales of just under £30 per year.
Speaking at the launch of the research at the Senedd in Cardiff. Hannah Blythyn, the Environment Minister, said: "Our ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act puts the health and well-being of future populations at the heart of decisions made at all levels of government in Wales. Our parks and green spaces play a vital role in the health of our communities and we need to ensure they are protected for years to come."
On the same day at a Scottish Parliament Local Government and Communities Committee roundtable, Fields in Trust along with other colleagues interested in the health and wellbeing value of parks and green spaces presented evidence to the committee. Several participants stressed the need to reconsider the way parks and green spaces are accounted for - not in terms of their costs for maintenance but through the prism of their contribution to community health and wellbeing.
Our research shows parks and green paces contribute £2.8 billion per year to Scotland's community health and wellbeing. The average Total Economic Value to an individual in Scotland is £27.96 per year. Overall using parks and green spaces equates to better general health which translates into a £9.1 million saving to NHS Scotland per year because of fewer GP visits.
The figures for Wales and for Scotland are calculated from our overall research report, "Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces", which provides a robust economic valuation of parks and green spaces across the UK as well as valuing improvements in health and wellbeing associated with their frequent use. Our primary survey used a UK-wide representative sample of over 4,000 adult residents and was conducted in line with HM Treasury "green book" guidance on valuing non-market goods. The value of parks and green spaces is higher for individuals from lower socio-economic groups and black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. This means that any loss of parks and green spaces will disproportionately impact disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, precisely those who value them the most.
This is the first research study on parks and green spaces to use welfare weighting methodology, allowing for more informed evidence-based policy decisions. Building on the data and analysis collected here, the next step is to develop an approach that more closely associates a value with an individual park or green space so the data and analysis can specifically inform local decisions about protection and support of local sites. Our strategy "Green Spaces for Good" sets out how Fields in Trust will protect, support and champion our parks and green spaces - the strategy has been published with special editions for both Wales and Scotland.
Rhodri Edwards is Fields in Trust Cymru Manager and is based in our office at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff
Phone: 02920 334 935
Colin Rennie is Fields in Trust Scotland Manager and is based in our office at The Circle in Dundee
Phone: 01382 817 427
Mobile: 07852 938 740