The urban areas of South East Queensland are embedded in a region of farms, bushland, forests and water bodies. Although these open space lands are generally accepted as important, open space benefits, other than industry output, are difficult to measure. Benefits to the environment, the community and future generations do not generally have a market price so are not reflected in land values. In this situation, the measurable benefits of changed land use often win out over the unmeasured values of unchanged use.
Open space benefits include:
^aEURc Individual – recreation, self-discovery and spirituality, scenic amenity, environmental appreciation
^aEURc Community – life-based ethos, social bonding, community and cultural identity, communal responsibility for landscape outcomes
^aEURc Production – agriculture, livestock, quarry materials, eco-tourism
^aEURc Ecosystem Services – water, air, soil, pollination, flood mitigation
^aEURc Ecosystem Amenity – support for human and other communities
^aEURc Planning system – separated urban areas, future opportunities, reduced developmental impacts, community boundaries.
All of these benefits may be available from the same parcel of land at the same time. The challenge for the community is to manage the benefits so that none is lost needlessly.
This paper provides an overview of the last four open space benefits for South-East Queensland (SEQ), which are those more easily assessed in economic terms. Community and individual benefits are not targeted in the following discussion.