Richard Belcher’s paper on the value of green space to Singapore homebuyers published in Ecological Economics

As a city grows, surrounding vegetation is cleared for development. If too little green space remains within a city, human wellbeing can suffer because of a lack of recreational opportunities and an inability to connect with nature. This is especially true in the tropics, where many cities have grown quickly with a lack of large-scale planning and little thought to the preservation of green spaces. From a conservation perspective, the rapid loss of green spaces in tropical cities is particularly concerning because this entails high biodiversity loss. To encourage appropriate city planning and judicious preservation of green spaces, research is needed into the value of green spaces for city residents.

In a new paper led by Richard Belcher, a former Master’s student in our lab, we present a hedonic pricing analysis of the value of green space to homebuyers in Singapore. Using a large data set of 15,962 apartment sales over a 12 month period, we found that the presence of green space within 1600 m has an overall positive effect on an apartment’s price, with the mean effect across Singapore estimated at S$11,200 per apartment. This amounts to about 3% of the total value of the housing market in Singapore. Interestingly, this positive effect came almost entirely from managed vegetation, i.e., parkland with large mown grassy spaces interspersed with patches of planted or semi-natural vegetation. In contrast, the effect on apartment prices of nearby high conservation value forests was actually slightly negative overall.

These results vindicate Singapore’s policy of providing extensive parkland for residents’ recreation, and should encourage the provision of more green spaces in other tropical cities worldwide. However, the results also indicate that if humans and biodiversity are to coexist in tropical cities, education programmes must inform citizens of the benefits of having not just managed parkland but natural high conservation value forests in the neighbourhood.

Belcher, R. N. and R. A. Chisholm (2018). Tropical vegetation and residential property value: a hedonic pricing analysis in Singapore. Ecological Economics 149:149–159