The Value of Green Spaces

Example of ORVal map

It can be a challenge to quantify the recreational value of urban green spaces. Parks in urban areas can be overlooked when business and residential development is in demand. Globally, different research is considering ways to better value the outdoor spaces that provide indispensable opportunity for human and environmental health. In the UK, a sophisticated model is helping policymakers understand the demand for recreational outdoor green spaces. 

A lack of comparative measure for the value of green spaces in urban areas can be a limitation to investing, protecting and developing such spaces. The importance of green spaces and accompanying plants is well known, however, with demand for urban development increasing, these spaces are not always prioritised. In England, the creation of an evaluation model known as The Outdoor Recreation Valuation tool (ORVal) has provided policymakers with estimated monetary values for urban green spaces. The research conducted by the University of Exeter, is modelled on data collected in a nationwide survey which asks about recreational visits to the natural environment. The results from over 78,154 observations and the mapping of 128,295 greenspaces allows researchers to examine where the public are visiting, for how long, and their motivation. One of the key recent findings for motivation to visit outdoor spaces is the significance of good access to quality green space. 

Understanding the motivators and barriers to engaging with green space can provide insights to develop targeted policy. The most recent report from the team behind ORVal estimated the value of UK green spaces to be £25.6bn a year. Many urban areas presented highly valuable green spaces, such as Croxteth Hall in Liverpool which had a recreational value of £8,496,720. The ORVal tool can be used to estimate the number of visits to existing or newly created green spaces, and to derive monetary value of the recreational opportunities provided by those sites. This provides councils and urban planners with an economic value of green spaces to strengthen the argument to protect and invest in trees and plants for urban areas.

Learn more: ORVal | Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute | University of Exeter

Francesca Boyd