Blogger: Sarah Green, Project Coordinator - Natura People Partnership Project

We all know nature reserves are important.  They are important for the species they host, for the breath of fresh air they provide and the wonderful views.  But what many people don’t realise is that nature reserves are also really good for the economy.

Huh, I hear you say?  No, don’t turn away, this is important, I promise.

For instance, did you know that our Flagship Suffolk reserve, Minsmere, supported over 100 jobs in the local community in 2009?  And that in the same year visitors spent £2.9 million in the local economy?*  That’s quite a lot of cash.  And all of it goes towards local people.  It’s not just Minsmere that helps local economies either.  All our reserves bring a financial benefit to their local area, whether it’s through people wanting to spy White Tailed Eagles on the Isle of Mull or Red Kites in Galloway, or it’s the prospect of a nice day out in beautiful surroundings, possibly followed by tea and cake.


At Minsmere, we are improving the site to provide a better experience for visitors.  This means more visitors which means more money spent in the local area.  We want to talk to businesses.  We want to explain to them what Minsmere can do for them. We want local businesses to have a connection to the site.  We want to build transnational links between organisations and show what the power of tourism can do.

Under the auspices of the European funded Natura People project, we are developing an economic model to show the financial benefits of nature reserves and we’ll be producing case studies for each partner** in the project, to give in depth examples of how the model works.  We’ll then take these findings and use them to help persuade the bureaucrats and politicians to invest in our green spaces, to value our natural environment and to protect it.

We will be discussing this work in more detail in November, at the third of our six monthly partner meetings.  Is there anything you are particularly concerned about?  Anything you want to know about the links between nature reserves, tourism and economics?  Leave us a comment, send us an email and we’ll respond!


(You can also read our other blogs about Natura People here and here). 


*See the RSPB’s Natural Foundations report, 2011 and Local Economies

 **The partners in this Natura People project are: RSPB (UK), Province of West Flanders (Belgium), Province of Zeeland (The Netherlands), and Natuur-en Recreatieschap de Grevelingen, (The Netherlands)

The nature reserves benefiting from the Natura People project are:

RSPB Minsmere (UK)

Zwin (Provincie west-Vlaanderen, Belgium)

Waterdunen ( Provincie Zeeland, the Netherlands)


Natura People is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the INTERREG IV A 2 Mers Seas Zeeën Crossborder Programme 2007-2013.