Parks and green spaces across the UK provide people with over £34bn of health and wellbeing benefits, report says.
Green spaces are increasingly under threat as councils are forced to cut public spending. This can have a negative impact on public health.
The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has found 95% of parks professionals are concerned that a lack of investment in them will have health and social impacts.
New research from Fields in Trust has attempted to quantify this impact.
The charity’s new report, Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, demonstrates that accessible green areas help to decrease the number of people who visit the GP.
They calculate that in total this saves the NHS at least £111m per year.
The report also argued that parks provide a total economic value to each person in the UK of just over £30 per year.
It also found the value of parks is higher for individuals from lower socio-economic groups and also from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
‘This report clearly demonstrates the economic and wellbeing benefits that parks and green spaces bring to people across the UK,’ said Helen Griffiths, chief executive of Fields in Trust.
‘At a time when parks and green spaces are under threat this is valuable evidence that the loss of green space is hugely damaging to people's welfare.
‘The research also confirms that any decision by a public body to remove a park or green space is completely short-sighted – and will in fact likely cost more money than is saved.
‘In health alone parks and green spaces saved the NHS at least £111 million per year through prevented GP visits - enough to pay for more than 3,500 nurses.
‘The evidence is now clear: green spaces are good, they do good and they need to be protected for good.
‘That's why as part of our new strategy Fields in Trust is committing itself to protecting more green spaces, so that people up and down our country, both now and in the future, can continue to benefit from them.’