Monetary value is a green space weapon

The critical and urgent task of quantifying the full economic impact of green space in the UK has moved a step closer this week with two very welcome pieces of news.

The first, as we report this week, is the securing of cash from the Big Lottery Fund for groundbreaking research led by charity Greenspace Scotland that will place a monetary value on the impact of a series of community green space projects. The research programme, which follows the publication by the charity of a pilot study of the social return on investment in one green space project this autumn — the first of its kind in the country — is critical for two reasons.

Firstly, because it includes within its assessment the social benefits that communities derive from the use of green space — factors that, while recognised by some policy-makers, have been assumed to be unmeasurable in monetary terms and hence omitted from the investment decision-making process.

Secondly, as we noted when the pilot study was published, by plugging the gaps within what can be measured, the programme is creating exactly the kind of model required by the green space sector to prove its worth in the coming battle for funds.

The second piece of good news is that although green space professionals will have to wait for two years to see the fruits of this analysis, they can benefit today from another crucial study on an identical mission, this time from The Mersey Forest partnership.

Like Greenspace Scotland, the Mersey Forest team has sought to assess a fuller range of social, economic and environmental benefits of its investment in green space - in this case, creating community woodlands. The analysis shows a return on investment that the team rightly concludes illustrates excellent value for money.

As we've said many times, the ability of such studies to aid green space professionals facing cuts or fighting for investment can't be underestimated. Arm yourself with a copy now and add it to the small but growing war chest of research uncovering the monetary value of green space. Better still, use it to argue the case for an analysis that can prove the monetary value of green space in your region today.


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Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space
 

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