A new study by researchers at Lincoln University has valued the benefits of a city-to sea reserve in the Avon River residential red zone at around a billion dollars over ten years.
Dr Su Vallance of the Faculty of Environment, Society and Design and Dr Peter Tait of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit undertook the research at the request of Avon-Otakaro Network (AvON), the community group campaigning to turn the Avon River Red Zone into a recreational eco-park. Funding was provided by the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust and the Royal Society’s Marsden Fund.
AvON Co-Chair Mark Gibson says, “This is very significant, not only does the report show the tremendous level of support for this vision, but also that it has enormous inherent value for the people of Christchurch.
“This is exquisite timing as this Sunday 29 September, is World Rivers Day which celebrates and values our waterways and promotes active public stewardship of rivers to ensure their health in years to come”.
According to the report support is strongest for “a unique natural environment with native fauna and flora, healthy wetlands and rivers, and recreational opportunities that align with this vision, such as walking, cycling and water-based sporting and leisure activities.”
The research also showed support for a reserve that “promotes and enables community interaction and well being, and is evident in respondents’ desires for community gardens, regular festivals and markets, and the physical linking of the CBD with eastern suburbs through a green corridor.”
There was much less support for the inclusion of open grassed areas considered more typical of an urban park such as Hagley Park.
The study estimates that the combined benefits determined by willingness to pay, health savings and “ecosystems services” including “water quality improvements, flood mitigation and storm water management” are about $95M per annum or about a billion dollars over ten years.
Evan Smith, AvON’s fellow Co-Chair adds, “These figures don’t even take account of the value of the reserve to tourism. A pilot study by another researcher referred to in the report, indicates that a city-to-sea river park could be worth a further half billion over ten years in extra bed nights and tourist dollars. This really is a no-brainer isn’t it?”
For a copy of the full report click here