This study commissioned by the National Trust, The Mayor of London and the Heritage Lottery Fund, published in November 2017, shows – for the first time – the economic value of health benefits that Londoners get from the capital’s public parks and green spaces. Measuring the recreational, climatic and mental and physical health benefits of public spaces found that public parks are worth £91bn to London. We hope that this will encourage local authorities to value their public spaces and not just see them as a cost. Read the full report.
What is natural capital?
‘Natural’ capital is made up of the elements of nature that benefit people directly or indirectly. These assets include ecosystems, species, fresh water, land, minerals, the air and oceans, as well as natural processes and functions. Benefits can include goods (such as timber and food) and services (such as clean air and water).
In an urban context, these assets are our parks, rivers, trees, and features such as green roofs that collectively form an essential green infrastructure. Designed and managed as green infrastructure, natural capital can:
- promote healthier living
- lessen the impacts of climate change
- improve air quality and water quality
- encourage walking and cycling
- store carbon
- improve biodiversity and ecological resilience
Reducing funding for parks and green spaces is a false economy
- London’s public green spaces have a gross asset value of more than £91 billion, providing services valued at £5 billion per year
- for each £1 spent by local authorities and their partners on public green space, Londoners enjoy at least £27 in value
- Londoners avoid £950 million per year in health costs due to public green space
- the value of recreational activities is estimated to be £926 million per year
- for the average household in London, the monetary value of being in close proximity to a green space is over £900 per year
Public green spaces offer other services too, such as temperature regulation and carbon storage. Green spaces in urban areas counter higher temperatures in summer months that can lead to ill health.
The economic benefits are not spread equally across or within London boroughs. The account also indicates that there is a fairness and equality agenda that must be addressed in future funding and investment.