The benefits of urban nature
The potential of urban green and blue spaces to generate better health and well-being is outlined in a new report, which also presents methodologies to assess the value of these impacts on society. “Assessing the value of urban green and blue spaces for health and well-being” is part of a growing body of evidence which supports more consistent decision-making from policy-makers about urban spaces, by illuminating their multifunctional benefits, as well as the potential trade-offs inherent in their provision.
Space is limited in urban areas and competition over its use is growing. In a world of competing interests, there is a lack of health-related evidence on the benefits and risks to society associated with such spaces. To protect or enhance them, their value needs to be better understood by those making decisions on resource allocation. Despite advances in environmental and public health economics, a monetary value cannot be placed on the benefits they bring, including for future generations. Therefore, a mixture of methods is required to understand the value that people attach to urban green and blue spaces.
Potential benefits which can be assessed include:
- environmental benefits, such as carbon capture and storage and improved water quality;
- health and well-being benefits, including physical health (e.g. directly, through reduced air pollution and cooling effects; or indirectly, through increased opportunities for physical activity) and mental health and well-being (e.g. stress relief or reducing harms such as noise);
- social, cultural and spiritual benefits, such as the support of urban nature for social contact and cohesion, as well as for education, heritage and creativity.