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Title: Economic values of metro nature health benefits: A life course approach

Author: Wolf, Kathleen L.; Measells, Marcus K.; Grado, Stephen C.; Robbins, Alicia S.T.;

Date: 2015

Source: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: tThe presence of metro nature enables daily environmental interactions, and a substantial body of evi-dence now demonstrates that nature contact generates extensive psychosocial, cognitive, and physicalhealth and well-being benefits. Estimates of the economic values of such benefits have lagged similarvaluation efforts for environmental services (such as improved air and water quality). In this article,using a life course approach, we estimate the potential annual value of six metro nature benefits, andcautiously extrapolate to a national scale, based on best available data and research. This is done byapplying established economic values associated with epidemiology and public health to metro naturebenefits estimates reported in prior peer-reviewed literature. The six situations of benefits valuationpotential focused on: birth weight, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), school performance,crime, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. This benefits set demonstrates the importance ofnature contact in urban areas over the course of the human lifespan. We estimate that the potential costsavings, avoided costs, and increased income range between $2.7 and $6.8 billion annually (2012 USD).Yet these values represent only a subset of benefits described in the current literature concerning urbannature experiences and health and well-being outcomes, pointing to the need for increased researchconcerning further valuations. We also point out challenges encountered in developing these estimatesand limitations of their use. There is an urgent need to improve, expand, and integrate research methodsand valuation strategies that link urban natural resources, public health, and economics. The resultingcontributions to policy and programs can greatly improve urban quality of life.

Keywords: Economic valuation, Human health, Metro nature, Urban greening, Urban forestry, Urban ecosystem services, Public health

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Wolf, Kathleen L.; Measells, Marcus K.; Grado, Stephen C.; Robbins, Alicia S.T. 2015. Economic values of metro nature health benefits: A life course approach. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 14(3): 694-701.


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