The Outdoor Recreation Valuation Tool – known as ORVal is a freely accessible web-based tool that predicts the number of visits to existing and new greenspaces in England and Wales. It takes this data and provides an estimate of the welfare value of those visits in monetary terms.
What can ORVal do?
The National Lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 made many of us re-evaluate the spaces we occupy. Inside our homes, many of us changed our kitchen table into a home-school, or a spare bedroom into a workplace. And in our local neighbourhoods private gardens, public green spaces and beaches became places for exercise, wildlife watching and meeting family and friends more safely.
Our collective appreciation of local parks, woodlands and green spaces seems to have grown stronger. The health and wellbeing benefits of these spaces have become clearer to us. But how would we go about ascribing a value to these benefits? How could we calculate the full value of these spaces and places for individuals, communities or organisations to make decisions about protecting or changing them?
How might this help?
ORVal aims to do exactly this. The primary purpose is to provide information that might be useful to government, businesses and communities in understanding the benefits that are derived from accessible greenspace in England, for example, as part of strategic or project appraisal, policy evaluation or natural capital accounting.
ORVal is likely to be of use to the following groups and organisations:
It seeks to quantify the recreational value of green space in England and Wales, allowing users to test the impact of changes to existing sites or the introduction of new sites on this value. It can provide quantifiable data to inform decision making processes when land use change is being considered.
The ORVal tool allows users to access the power of this tool through a map-based web interface. It also allows users to learn something about the nature of different sites mapped; it provides a large variety of additional layers that users can display on the map. Those layers provide information on the land cover, land uses, water margins, special designations and points of interest to be found in or near each recreation site.
ORVal has three key functions allowing users to:
– explore the usage and welfare values that are generated by currently accessible greenspaces. Welfare values can be viewed at individual site level or aggregated by regions.
– estimate how usage and welfare values might change if the characteristics of a recreational greenspace were changed.
– draw new recreation sites on the map, define their characteristics and estimate the usage and welfare values that might be generated by creating that new greenspace in that particular location
ORVal recently featured in the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan where the government commit to:
“Continuing our ground-breaking work with Exeter University to update the world-leading Outdoor Recreation Valuation Tool (ORVal) in 2018.”