Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Putting a dollar value on conservation

Putting a dollar value on conservation


The economic and social benefits of greening urban areas are being explored in a multi-disciplinary project at Victoria University of Wellington.

Leading the project, with support from Wellington City Council, is Dr Wayne Linklater, the Director of the Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology and senior lecturer in ecology and biodiversity at Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences.

He says the project consists of two main themes.

The first is living with nature—how to strike a balance between making urban areas better places for wildlife to live, and managing some of the negative effects of living more closely with wildlife.

The project’s other main theme is how biodiversity in urban areas can have a positive impact on peoples’ health and, subsequently, the wider economy.

Dr Linklater says the project seeks to transform the idea of conservation from being a charity in which only a minority is interested, to something that can garner wider backing and increased support from government.

“We know that having biodiversity in cities is good for conservation—we want to show how it’s also good for people, and to put a dollar value on it.

“Having people engaged with nature and providing green-spaces for them to enjoy has clear benefits for mental well-being.”

As part of the project, Victoria Conservation Biology masters student Julie Whitburn has been using the Wellington City Council’s free plants programme to explore the impact of increased greenery and participation in local planting on peoples’ well-being.

Through a postal survey, Julie surveyed over 400 households in 20 neighbourhoods across 15 suburbs in Wellington, using internationally approved assessments of well-being.

“Quite significantly, she has been able to demonstrate strong associations between living in a greener neighbourhood and peoples’ mental health,” says Dr Linklater.

He says there is also a correlation between the amount of biodiversity in an area and the ranking that place has on the New Zealand Deprivation Index and on residents’ mental health, with less green neighbourhoods scoring lower on the index and having poorer mental health.

“There is a strong health justification for better environmental design and management of neighbourhoods,” says Dr Linklater.

The project lends itself to a multi-disciplinary approach—already the researchers have collaborated with Victoria senior psychology lecturer, Dr Taciano Milfont and the work is complementary to research being done towards more resilient cities in Victoria’s School of Architecture and on sustainable cities in Victoria’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences.

“We are also interested in bringing health authorities on board to get testing underway—surveying neighbourhoods with a high deprivation index, greening those areas—preferably by engaging the residents in planting—and then going back in a few years to measure the difference in health benefits,” says Dr Linklater.

“If we can improve mental health by, say, 20 percent, what does that mean in terms of less demand on the health system, and dollar savings to the economy?”

Dr Linklater believes there are very real economic gains to be had—but the key will be to persuade the Government to invest in this area.

“We need to convince economists and accountants by quantifying the impact of green space, so that this work can have an influence on policy.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Parliament Today:

Werewolf: The Defence Pretence

Last year, the world began spending more money on weapons again, for the first time since 2011... New Zealand belongs to a region – Asia and Oceania – where military spending rose sharply in 2015, by 5.4 per cent. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Not Crying Foul, Argentina

So a couple of guys found to be criminally liable of environmental pollution in Argentina lodge an application with the Overseas Investment Office… in order to buy some prime New Zealand rural land. Seems that their factory back home had carelessly and/or intentionally discharged toxic waste into the Lujan river. Bummer... More>>

ALSO:

Urban & Rural: $303m To Merge And Modernise New Zealand’s Fire Services

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne today announced funding of $303 million over five years to combine urban and rural fire services into one organisation from mid-2017. More>>

ALSO:

High Trust Regime: What Did The PM Tell His Lawyer About Foreign Trusts?

The Government stopped the IRD from reviewing New Zealand foreign trusts shortly after the Prime Minister’s lawyer wrote to the Revenue Minister claiming John Key had promised him the regime would not be changed. More>>

ALSO:

Road Crime: Wicked Campers Vans Classified As Objectionable

The definition of publication includes any "thing that has printed or impressed upon it, or otherwise shown upon it, 1 or more (or a combination of 1 or more) images, representations, signs, statements, or words", The Classification Office has previously classified such 'things' as billboards, t-shirts, and even a drink can. This is the first time the Classification Office has classified a vehicle. More>>

ALSO:

'When New' Repairs: Landmark EQC Settlement

The Earthquake Commission has cut a deal with 98 Canterbury homeowners that affirms the government entity's responsibility to repair earthquake-damaged property to a 'when new' state, as well as covering repairs for undamaged parts of a property and clarifying its position on cash settlement calculations. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Kiwirail’s Latest Stint In The Dogbox

The denigration of Kiwirail continues. The latest review (based on a 2014 assessment) of the options facing the company have enabled Kiwirail to be hung out to dry once again as a liability and burden on the taxpayer. More>>

ALSO:

Royal Society Report: Good Opportunities To Act Now On Climate Change

There are many actions New Zealand can and should take now to reduce the threat of climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy, a report released today by the Royal Society of New Zealand finds... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news