An economist has found improvements at Moseley Bog are worth more than £1 million to the local community.
An inspiration behind Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the nature reserve in the south of the city has been bolstered by a half-a-million pound improvement programme restoring hedgerows, managing meadows, and adding board walks, steps and pathways.
But a new report claims the improvements are more than superficial, having an impact on house prices, physical health and mental health and even combating climate change.
Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust is leading the work at Moseley Bog and commissioned an economist to calculate the value of the site’s impact on human wellbeing.
The resulting report is part of an increasingly popular field of economics which focuses on finding the financial value of nature.
Neil Wyatt, chief executive of the Wildlife Trust, said: “This area has an impact on people’s lives and we can put a value on that in a way that people understand.
“Not all the things we’ve done can be costed but he’s valued all he can.”
Economist Oliver Hölzinger was able to cost up the benefits of Moseley Bog as a recreational resource, an aesthetic amenity, a wildlife habitat and as a resource for mitigating climate change.
He used studies that reveal the average price people are willing to pay to be able to see woodland from their home and suggested other studies show that swathes of woodland like Moseley Bog can reduce the temperature of the surrounding area during a heatwave.
He wasn’t able to get a realistic picture of the nature reserve’s value in tackling air pollution or its value as an educational resource, and suggests because of methodological restrictions his estimation of the benefits to health probably fall far short of reality.
Mr Wyatt said: “We shouldn’t be afraid of showing how improving the environment will bring benefits to society and to our economy, especially in urban areas.
“Some people want hard numbers and now we can bring that.”