Parks and green spaces across the UK are providing people with more than £34bn of health and wellbeing benefits, according to research.
British charity Fields in Trust carried out the study which comes as it launches a new five-year strategy called Green Spaces for Good. It includes a foreword from the charity’s President, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, who sets out the strategic focus on protecting parks and green spaces for future generations to enjoy.
The £34bn of wellbeing benefits come as a result of people enjoying greater life satisfaction with improved physical and mental health, directly as a result of using regularly using parks and green spaces.
The research, Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, aims to establish a baseline for the value that parks and green spaces contribute to health and wellbeing, rather than being judged by maintenance cost.
Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces demonstrates National Health Service savings of at least £111 million per year, based solely on prevented GP visits. This doesn’t include savings from non-referrals for treatment or prescriptions – meaning the actual savings to the taxpayer will be significantly higher.
The report also calculates that parks provide a total economic value to each person in the UK of just over £30 per year. The value of parks and green spaces is higher for individuals from lower socio-economic groups and also from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Fields in Trust already permanently protects more than 2,700 parks and green spaces in the UK. As part of their new strategy Green Spaces for Good, the charity is committing to protecting more green spaces, with the aim of 75 per cent of the UK population being within a 10-minute walk of a protected park or green space by 2022.
Helen Griffiths, chief executive of Fields in Trust, said: “This report clearly demonstrates the economic and wellbeing benefits that parks and green spaces bring to people across the UK.
“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.”