A new study has shown that parks and green spaces in England and Wales provide adults with £25.6bn of ‘welfare value’ each year.
The economic value of every outdoor recreational space has been assessed by a new online tool developed by researchers at the University of Exeter Business School.
The Outdoor Recreation Valuation Tool (ORVal) found small parks deliver ‘pound for pound’ the highest recreation value.
The study, funded by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), found the top 10 most valuable green space was Hyde Park in London, with an estimated welfare value of £24.1m. However, the study also revealed that individuals in London in fact make the lowest number of visits to green space across all regions.
This was followed by Sutton Park in Birmingham with a value of £15.6m and Blaise Castle in Bristol at nearly £13m.
Brett Day, Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Exeter Business School and Director of the Land, Environment, Environment and Policy Institute (LEEP) said: 'The great contribution of this study is that it puts a figure to the value of our green spaces: £25.6bn a year.
'The size of that benefit stands in stark contrast to the deep cuts in green space budgets across UK councils, cuts that threaten to condemn our green spaces to neglect and disrepair. The ORVal tool makes explicit the very real, but all-too-often-ignored, losses that people endure as a consequence.
'What this study illustrates very clearly is that the location and type of green space is incredibly important in determining recreation benefits – a park or recreation site just 10 minutes travel in the wrong place can have an almost exponential effect on how many people use it.'
The study found that people from ethnic minority backgrounds and in less affluent socioeconomic groups are less likely to engage in outdoor recreation, even when given the same recreation opportunities.