£1m online toolkit to assess green benefits

A new online toolkit, designed to enable cities and developers to accurately assess the multiple benefits of green infrastructure, is receiving £1 million investment from Innovate UK to boost urban greenspace.

Alongside economics consultancy Vivid Economics and planning consultancy Barton Willmore, researchers at the University of Exeter will create the toolkit to calculate location-specific economic values of the health, social and environmental benefits of urban green infrastructure.

Recognising the value of protecting, maintaining and creating green spaces, such as parks, gardens, street trees, rivers and canals, is seen as key to physical and mental well-being, supporting recreation and community events, as well providing space for wildlife, absorbing rainwater and tackling air pollution.

Previous research by Vivid Economics for the Greater London Authority reported that the capital’s public green spaces bring at least £5 billion worth of value each year, equalling £27 of value for every £1 spent by tax payers.

Becca Lovell, from the University of Exeter, said: “There is mounting evidence of just how crucial green space is to the health and happiness of urban people, particularly for people in more deprived communities. This project will take this evidence and transform it into a practical and comprehensive decision-making toolkit for land owners and managers. The toolkit will help protect existing provision and promote the integration of good quality green space into new developments.”

Therese Karger-Lerchl, who is co-leading the development of the toolkit at Vivid Economics, added: “Once we were able to provide credible estimates for valuing London’s parks, we realised the importance of being able to roll out this idea so that all green infrastructure in urban spaces could be accurately valued. This will help those investing in and maintaining green infrastructure to make informed decisions about how they spend their budgets.”

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