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Environmental Management

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 1354–1365 | Cite as

Valuing the Benefits of Creek Rehabilitation: Building a Business Case for Public Investments in Urban Green Infrastructure

  • Gayathri Devi Mekala
  • Roger N Jones
  • Darla Hatton MacDonald
Article

Abstract

In an effort to increase the livability of its cities, public agencies in Australia are investing in green infrastructure to improve public health, reduce heat island effects and transition toward water sensitive urban design. In this paper, we present a simple and replicable approach to building a business case for green infrastructure. This approach requires much less time and resources compared to other methods for estimating the social and economic returns to society from such investments. It is a pragmatic, reasonably comprehensive approach that includes socio-demographic profile of potential users and catchment analysis to assess the economic value of community benefits of the investment. The approach has been applied to a case study area in the City of Brimbank, a western suburb of Greater Melbourne. We find that subject to a set of assumptions, a reasonable business case can be made. We estimate potential public benefits of avoided health costs of about AU$75,049 per annum and potential private benefits of AU$3.9 million. The project area is one of the most poorly serviced areas in the municipality in terms of quality open spaces and the potential beneficiaries are from relatively low income households with less than average health status and education levels. The values of cultural (recreational benefits, avoided health costs, and increased property values) and regulating (reduction in heat island effect and carbon sequestration) ecosystem services were quantified that can potentially offset annual maintenance costs.

Keywords

Ecosystem services Australia Green spaces Health benefits 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The Australian Commonwealth‐funded Collaborative Research Network Program and CSIRO supported a Postdoctoral Fellowship for Dr. Gayathri Devi Mekala as part of the Water Management area within Victoria University. City West Water and Greening the West proposed the case study area, providing key data and feedback. Darren Coughlan especially, provided background information, site history and workshop support. Kathleen Hurley provided support in building the GIS maps and demarcating the project catchment. Brimbank City Council sponsored the community workshop with Adrian Gray investing time and council’s in‐kind contribution. Celeste Young provided workshop methodology and know‐how, organization and support. Finally, Simon Wilkinson and Clare Lombardi provided review comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gayathri Devi Mekala
    • 1
    • 3
  • Roger N Jones
    • 1
  • Darla Hatton MacDonald
    • 2
  1. 1.Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic StudiesVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Land and Water, Institute for Land and Water in SocietyCharles Sturt UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.MelbourneAustralia

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