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Nature Reserves offer £36m of benefits to society

National Nature Reserves (NNRs) offer £36m worth of economic, environmental and societal benefits, according to research from Natural England.

Their analysis published today (February 21) reports on the current health of NNRs as natural assets, and includes a balance sheet that calculates the value they provide.

Natural England hopes the report will provide a ‘new perspective’ to inform investment and management decisions around NNRs.

The report reveals the most significant benefits provided by NNRs are wildlife, cultural, and climate change related.

The report estimates that the 141 NNRs managed by Natural England will remove up to 185,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year from our atmosphere providing an annual benefit of approximately £12m.

NNRs are an important recreational resource, attracting an estimated 5.5 million visits a year and don’t charge for access with Natural England estimating these visits are worth £22m per year.

Other benefits of NNRs, such as wildlife and health improvement, and water quality and pollination, are also highlighted in the report, although they say they are not yet able to place a monetary value on them.

Tim Hill, chief scientist at Natural England said:  ‘National Nature Reserves are the crown jewels of our natural heritage, important natural capital assets that need to be understood to ensure they are resilient so we can continue to provide environmental, societal and economic benefits for generations to come.

‘I believe that these accounts demonstrate not only how important National Nature Reserves are, but also how a more inclusive approach to natural capital accounting is essential if we are to invest in, and manage, our natural capital for the full suite of benefits that they offer.’

Last year a report from charity Fields in Trust claimed that visits to Britain’s parks and green spaces saves the NHS £111m a year through prevented GP visits.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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