Birmingham Green Living Spaces Plan (GLSP) – Ecosystem Services Evaluation for Birmingham’s Green Infrastructure
Authors: Oliver Hölzinger (CEEP), Richard Coles (Birmingham City University), Mike Christie (Aberystwyth University) & Nick Grayson (Birmingham City Council)
Client: Birmingham City Council
Published: September 2013
This report is Appendix 1 of Birmingham’s Green Living Places Plan. It is an assessment of the value of Birmingham’s green infrastructure and focuses on the links between ecosystems and human wellbeing. As far as possible these benefits (ecosystem services) have been expressed in monetary terms. It is very important to stress that in this context the monetary value reflects an advance to human wellbeing – it is not a price (tag) for the environment. The main aim of this investigation was to express the benefits people gain from ecosystems where no markets and prices exist. This report follows the recently published Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP) and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) and is the first ecosystem assessment with this scope on a city scale in the UK and worldwide.
Stating the best guess, ecosystem services provided by Birmingham’s green infrastructure can be valued at £11.66m annually. The values presented in this report are based on different methodologies including for example the avoided flood damage costs through water being held back by wetlands, peoples’ willingness to pay to access greenspace for recreation or for protecting species and habitats. Due to a lack of current proven scientific methods – certain significant types of city habitats such as amenity grassland and the streams and rivers have had to be omitted. Hence the values shown need to be understood as conservative estimates.
Another aim of this investigation was to identify new research questions and feasible next steps that Birmingham City Council could undertake to develop and implement the ecosystem services approach as an aid to decision making. Birmingham wants to become a national pioneer for applying the ecosystem services approach as it sees this represents the most sustainable future for the city.