University research helps walkers and cyclists learn about nature – and invest in it


Researchers from Birmingham City University have been examining Visitor Giving schemes, which take donations from people visiting the countryside to fund environmental and community projects that give something back to the local area.

The research team at Birmingham School of the Built Environment, part of Birmingham City University, have been exploring whether such schemes might be able to quantify specific environmental benefits that visitors can sponsor, boosting visitor donations and creating better environmental outcomes.

Funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the research is one of ten pilot studies exploring how to apply the concept of payments for ecosystem services.

A key outcome of the research is the development of a set of smart phone apps for walkers and cyclists, which provide them with location-based information about the benefits provided to society from the landscapes they're travelling through.

Mark Reed, Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Research at Birmingham City University, said: “The theory behind the smart phone apps is that by learning about the environment whilst being immersed in it, visitors are more likely to appreciate the value of the natural environment, and be more willing to donate to support the continued provision of these benefits.”

The apps, which can be downloaded for free at the iTunes app store, have been developed in conjunction with the University collaborating on research with Nurture Lakeland, Project Maya Community Interest Company, URS consulting, Visit England, Campaign for National Parks and the English National Park Authorities Association.

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