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New Research Shows Parks and Green Spaces in Wales Generate Over £1.6 Billion of Benefits Each Year

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Parks and green spaces in Wales provide people with over £1.6 billion of wellbeing benefits each year, a new report from the charity Fields in Trust has revealed. The report, Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, comes as the charity launched its new five-year strategy in the Senedd on Wednesday 23 May, sponsored by Dai Lloyd AM; Chair of the National Assembly for Wales' Health, Social Care, and Sport Committee

The ground-breaking new research provides a robust economic valuation of parks and green spaces and, for the first time at a UK level, a statistically significant link between their use and health and well-being.

Speaking at the launch of the research, Hannah Blythyn, the Environment Minister, said:

“Our ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act puts the health and well-being of future populations at the heart of decisions made at all levels of government in Wales. Our parks and green spaces play a vital role in the health of our communities and we need to ensure they are protected for years to come.”

The £1.6 billion of wellbeing benefits in Wales (£34 billion across the UK) are a result of people enjoying greater life satisfaction including both improved physical and mental health, directly as a result of using parks and green spaces.

The research Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, compiled using HM Treasury approved methodology, finds that parks and green spaces save the National Health Service in Wales at least £5.2 million per year. This figure is based solely on prevented GP visits and doesn’t include savings from non-referrals for treatment or prescriptions – meaning the actual savings to the taxpayer will be significantly higher.

The Fields in Trust research report also calculates that parks provide a total economic value to each person in Wales of just under £30 per year. The value of parks and green spaces is higher for individuals from lower socio-economic groups and black Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. This means that any loss of parks and green spaces will disproportionately impact disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, precisely those who value them the most.

However, parks and green spaces are increasingly at risk – with recent research from The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) showing that 95% of parks professionals are concerned that a lack of investment in them will have health and social impacts. In addition, previous research from Fields in Trust showed that nearly one in five people (16%) say that their local park or green space has been under threat of being lost or built on.

The Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces research is the first time wellbeing benefits associated with parks and green spaces have been calculated so comprehensively, specifically using HM Treasury approved welfare weighting methodology.

Introducing the briefing session Dr Dai Lloyd AM said:

“As a GP by training, I am very clear about the physical and mental health advantages for regular park users. But what this report also demonstrates is that access to parks and green spaces helps keep people active in community spaces where they can meet others, help maintain connections with neighbours and help reduce loneliness – overall contributing to a reduction in the financial burden on health and social services.”

The Fields in Trust Cymru Chairman, Brynmor Wiliams, provided an overview of the charity’s new strategy focused on protecting parks and green spaces for future generations to enjoy and reflected on his own international rugby career which began on the Fields in Trust protected King George V Field in Cardigan.

He said:

“We know that parks and green spaces bring economic and wellbeing benefits to people throughout Wales. At a time when recreational spaces are under threat, this new research provides 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 in Wales at least £5.2 million per year through prevented GP appointments – enough to pay for almost 170 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.”

Fields in Trust already permanently protects 268 parks and green spaces in Wales (and a total of 2,735 across the UK). As part of their new strategy Green Spaces for Good, which includes a foreword from Fields in Trust President HRH The Duke of Cambridge, Fields in Trust are committing themselves to protecting more green spaces, with the aim of 75% of the UK population being within a 10-minute walk of a protected park or green space by 2022.

The full Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces research report can be downloaded from the Fields in Trust Website, alongside a summary in Welsh. The Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces research aims to change perceptions so that parks and green spaces are revalued for the contributions they make to health and wellbeing – not simply judged by what they cost to maintain. Fields in Trust’s new strategy, which includes a foreword from HRH The Duke of Cambridge, can also be downloaded from Fields in Trust’s new website.

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Mark is a passionate Welshman from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.

With over 15 years experience, he considers digital publishing, digital engagement, recruitment marketing and advertising (all media), digital video production, creative design and more recently social media development as his core knowledge and where a lot of his experience lays.

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