Open/green spaces are typically multifunctional, providing a mix of benefits to the public and communities, the economy, and the environment. They can also provide derived benefits for health, mainly when accessible space is used for physical exercise.
The distribution of benefits from green space in relation to economic and social disadvantage is unclear.
The analysis of benefits from open/green space to the different policy agendas concluded that:
- Benefits to economic policy are likely to be greatest through the support of tourism and in improving urban design and image. It is not clear what types of expenditure on open/green space will provide the greatest benefits to tourism.
- Greenspace management is central to the Assembly strategy for the countryside and environment, and there is a priority to improve biodiversity and environmental quality.
- The Objective 1 measures appear to offer remarkably little funding for open/greenspace other than measures relating to agriculture and forestry. It may be that the lack of evidence to support the economic benefits from the improvement of green/open space has resulted in it not being adequately funded in the programme.
- There are opportunities in taking forward “Wales: A Better Country” in ways that enhance green space benefits
- Community policy is highly targeted to those suffering social and economic deprivation, and associated impacts on health and wellbeing. Green space contributes to community policy through visual amenity and a resource that can facilitate healthy lifestyles. There is scope for open/green space as an input to community regeneration, land regeneration, and the fostering of a green image throughout Wales both in towns and in the countryside.
- The sustainable communities section of the Wales Spatial Plan includes the promotion of healthier lifestyles as one of the primary actions, including the
need to improve the quality of public spaces in degraded urban areas.
- Green space can contribute to active lifestyle and sports policies. It may also be significant for mental health and wellbeing. Benefits from reduced air pollution appear quite localised.
- The overall importance of maintaining and enhancing Welsh green space seems to be undervalued in tourism policy.