Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest (LEAF) Centre

Economic Impacts

The presence of green space affects an urban region in many different ways; the economic impacts of which are not straightforward to quantify and estimates can vary widely (Saraev, 2012).

In terms of direct financial impacts, case studies from around the UK suggest that proximity to green space is positively linked to both commercial and residential property prices, with properties overlooking a park being valued around 5-7% higher than equivalent properties elsewhere (CABE, 2005). The creation, maintenance and management of green space also generates employment opportunities, and may have indirect benefits to local economies by encouraging further investment and property development in the area.

An assessment conducted for the Mersey Forest, a tree planting programme that now forms a 1300 km2 network of woodlands and green spaces across Cheshire and Merseyside, concluded that every £1 invested in the programme was more than doubled (Regeneris, 2009). This was due mostly to tourism expenditure, the creation of forestry related jobs, estimated social cost savings (such as the impact of reduced air pollution), and well-being benefits (such as people’s perception of increased biodiversity and improved visual quality of the environment). The assessment concluded that the location of green space is key; to maximise the benefits, green space must be easily accessible to both local people and tourists, or at least viewable from their homes or while travelling.

However, it is not clear whether the assignment of monetary values can fully capture the importance of non-monetary effects, such as increased biodiversity or the cultural significance of woodland. Further research is required to develop approaches that can combine both monetary and non-monetary valuations in order to assess the true value of urban green spaces.