Does money really grow on trees?

If you could put a ballpark figure on the value of our nation’s green spaces what would it be?

According to Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner Homebase, green-fingered Britons have already spent more than £20billion on their backyards this year alone.

And it is no wonder, as flower power is estimated to add nearly one quarter to a home’s value.

Echinops and a butterfly in the garden at Killerton, Devon

Money grows on echinops and butterflies according to a National Parks England report

Beyond our garden fences and window boxes, green spaces are proving to be a boon for business.

A new report published today by National Parks England shows the importance of National Parks not just as iconic landscapes and part of our national identity, but as thriving rural economies contributing to national prosperity and wellbeing.

The study revealed that England’s National Parks contributed up to £6.3bn to the economy last year – equivalent to the UK aerospace industry, or the bustling city of Swindon where the National Trust’s headquarters is found.

It is doubtful that the 95million visitors to our valuable ‘breathing spaces’ will care less about these figures while walking amongst some of our nation’s most spectacular wildlife.

The value taken from hearing skylarks on Cheviot Hills or from catching your breath before the rolling panoramic views at Latrigg summit is not something that can be measured by pounds and pence.

However, the £3bn spent by visitors who love to explore beauty certainly can be. And it is our nation’s natural beauty that drives tourism in these areas.

Skylark collecting nesting material

Skylark collecting nesting material

Planning policy currently gives special protections to National Parks to ward against unwarranted development.

Only builds that are of benefit to the local community and to the preservation of wildlife and beauty can be allowed on these highly valued landscapes.

Rather than this protection strangling economic growth, the report states that a significant majority of planning applications in National Parks are being approved by local park authorities (89%, compared to 87% for England as a whole).

These are developments that are fit for the future and contribute to the conservation of the environment, with ecosystem services that underpin activities such as farming, forestry, reduce costs to society by improving health and wellbeing, and help to maintain a healthy environment in which people can live and work.

The National Trust believes it is vital that we have a planning policy that really values all of our green spaces as treasures and recognises the wealth of benefits they can hold for our wildlife, for our communities and for our economy.

  • What value does nature hold for you? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting @NTExtAffairs

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