They are the green heart of the Capital and a welcome oasis for residents and visitors alike – and now a study has revealed Edinburgh’s parks are worth £114 million to the city.
Park users will receive health and wellbeing benefits worth around £40.5 million, according to analysis asked to uncover the impact of the city’s 140 green spaces by Carrick Associates, on behalf of the Council.
And researchers found parks led to fitter members of the community, a more productive workforce for employers and better-informed school pupils – and calculated the financial value of this social, environmental and economic experience.
The report also estimated that parks helped to deliver an annual revenue of £51m for local businesses, while the value of the outdoor education experiences provided for children and students was estimated to be close to £1m.Environment leader Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “This research demonstrates just how important parks are for our health, wellbeing, environmental awareness and even local economy.
“Our parks are the gem in Edinburgh’s crown and are a real success story for the Capital, as recent awards from Britain in Bloom and Entente Florale have recognised.
“But more than that, they are at the heart of many of the city’s communities.”
For every £1 spent by the city to maintain parks, the study suggested that £12 of benefits would be delivered to people using them.
The report has been welcomed by campaigners but concerns were raised over reducing the city’s priceless natural assets to “an accountant’s abacus”.
Green councillor for Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart Gavin Corbett said: “I know from my own experience in Friends of Harrison Park just how precious green spaces are, from toddlers to our oldest citizens and for both physical and mental health.
“Although I’m pretty familiar with the Social Return on Investment model I do have some misgivings about applying it to public assets like parks and green space.
“As a means of giving a sense of their importance to the city I can see the merits but I would not want to see what is priceless to the city reduced to an accountant’s abacus.
“And I’d be very unhappy if such an exercise were used to rank spaces in order of ‘value’ with the lowest ranking being deemed dispensable.”
Residents are already aware of the value of their parks, said Fred Davies, vice chairman of the Friends of Corstorphine Hill which is one of the city’s 12 national heritage sites.
Mr Davies added: “I’m not surprised the city sees these green spaces as valuable though I wouldn’t know about the numbers. Green spaces contribute to the wellbeing of people in the local area.”