Providing Access to Urban Green Spaces: A Participatory Benefit-Cost Analysis in Spain
The opening up of green spaces could provide significant benefits to society. This study develops a framework to assess the economic benefits and costs of public interventions providing citizen access to urban green spaces. The Thinking Fadura project in Getxo (Spain) was used as a case study. A method for participatory benefit-cost analysis is developed, where a stakeholder-participatory evaluation is combined with a standard cost-benefit analysis. The participatory evaluation followed a bottom-up approach in a sequential evaluation including three main focal points: key stakeholders and experts, visitors and the general public.
The assessment demonstrates that the Thinking Fadura project’s benefits outweigh the costs. The results suggest that projects designed with the purpose of improving green space accessibility to the general public can be beneficial from a societal perspective. The highest economic benefits were an increase in the amenity and recreational value and an increase in people’s physical activity. The participatory evaluation indicates that giving access to people of lower socio-economic status and vulnerable groups and improving recreational use were perceived as the most beneficial. An increase in noise, dirt, and risk of criminal activities as well as potential conflicts between green space users were perceived as the most negative impacts of opening a previously restricted area to the general public.
The economic assessment of Thinking Fadura project could serve as a model in the decision-making process in locations where the use of greenspaces is restricted.
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Keywords: green space; participatory benefit-cost analysis; participatory evaluation; cost-benefit analysis