Understanding the Value of Outdoor Culture and Heritage Capital for Decision Makers

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Economics


The project addresses the practical problems of how to undertake robust social cost benefit analysis (CBA) for Culture and heritage capital (CHC) and how to apply and adapt accounting principles for sustainable management of CHC. CHC and Natural capital (NC) are intermingled across the English landscape. Existing approaches for valuing natural capital from the environmental economics literature likely subsume the value of CHC service flows and may compromise policy efficiency by mischaracterizing trade-offs involved in managing natural or CHC. The underlying objective of the project is to 1) Develop CHC valuation methods to be readily applied across a range of assets, and 2) To disentangle assets and services produced and co-produced by CHC and other assets such as NC.

The principal output will be an overarching framework for practitioners that will help articulate values and guide decision making. The framework will provide a basis that data and insights from future research can be added to. Our work will develop methodologies and guidance for CHC decision-making and outline the normative criteria for sustainability in terms of these methodologies.

Addressing these research problems is essential to improving the joint management of CHC and NC by our partners, realising public benefit, and ensuring socially responsible and people-centred approaches to land management. We will reconcile methodologies currently deployed in existing accounts of CHC flows with those developed and deployed for natural capital (NC) (Bateman et al, 2013;2016). Further, we utilise the infrastructure and connections of National Trust (NT) and Forestry England (FE) to design and implement innovative experimental valuation techniques for separating values, for example for NC and CHC flows, and for physical verses digital CHC assets. This will provide a robust and novel expansion of monetary estimates for CHC value flows.

In recognition of the urgent need for such approaches to support responses to increasing pressures for land use change, development, climate adaptation and other drivers this approach will ensure immediate impact on practice with findings reported to policy makers (DCMS, Defra and their public bodies) as the work unfolds. Early deliverables to support sector understanding and application of CHC will include publishing introductory guidance, valuation and accounting methodologies guidance and metrics for monitoring and demonstrating benefit flows and change. To support the sector wide adoption of metrics and enable CHC to be made visible and integrated into existing decision support tools, data layers for baseline CHC will be developed and made publicly available. Subsequent deliverables include new value estimates from our experiments, illustrative case study based CHC accounts, technical guidance, and the dissemination of outputs through conferences, webinars, briefing notes for practitioners and journal publications.


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