What value is your walk?
by David Feather
Did you realise that by taking walks through our lovely semi-wild nature reserve, you were saving the Country money? I didn’t and I bet you didn’t, unless you read an article in the Guardian last week.
The article cited a report by a Government organisation called Forest Research, stating that walks taken by people in UK woodlands save the NHS £185m a year in mental health costs. This research report, apparently, is thought to be the first attempt to estimate the mental health benefits associated with the UK’s woodlands, by valuing woodland through reducing the incidence of mental illness.
Two of the many footpaths through our summery park. The header picture is of the circular footpath where it leaves the main gate.
Forest Research has worked out that this sum equates to 39p per person per visit. To me, this seems way too little and it seems that the report thinks this as well. It states “Akin to the invisible part of an iceberg below the water, these mental health benefits of woodlands may potentially be substantially larger than those quantified ”
Rather than use an iceberg as a parallel, I think they should use the toadstool, where 99% of it is underground. We, who use the park in various ways, probably cannot put an absolute value to our visit, but I would say that it is certainly far above the 39p level – far above.
The important thing to note, though, is that a walk in the park, which we instinctively know is good for us, is being more understood by the powers that be and our nature reserve is not just a drain on Council funds. It gives back as well.