Turf Australia’s levy-funded project, Economic, Social, and Environmental Benefits of the Turfgrass and Lawncare Industry (TU17006) has concluded and provides some amazing facts and figures. Below is an excerpt from their article:
‘We know what makes turf so good. Every day we see the ways it enriches the lives of our children and pets as they play on the lawn. We admire, sometimes with jealously, the neighbour’s green, lush front yard and we love the feeling of calmness when we’re surrounded by greenspace.
Individuals, businesses and the wider community are all beneficiaries from the installation of turf. Ultimately, these benefits can be boiled down into five categories:
The financial benefit achieved by not having to install and maintain pavement, asphalt and synthetic turf
The environmental impact of the carbon dioxide removed from the air
The mitigation of the urban heat island effect
The increase in house value and rental returns associated with turf
The social and health benefits that come with public turfed areas, whether it be a place for competitive sport or the local meeting place.
Another core output from the research was the development of a tool which breaks down the benefits down to the individual suburb level (in Greater Melbourne and Sydney). Having access to this level of detail enables both Turf Australia and individual growers to have targeted, pointed conversations that are relatable and relevant for customers and decision-making stakeholders.
More turf means higher rents and higher house value
In Australia, there are many things we go crazy for. Each year, various sporting events bring the nation to a standstill, we love to rave about democracy sausages at election time and we will passionately advocate that we have the best coffee in the world.
But there’s one thing that consistently dominates the media, as well as the typical barbeque conversation. One topic that holds a special place in the hearts and minds of most adult Australians. Our one true national obsession – talking about house prices.
And with homeowners obsessed with talking about the value of their home, it’s important that landscapers are talking to them about turf. According to Hort Innovation, Australia’s peak body for horticulture, having a natural turf lawn can boost property value by over $100,000.
That finding is based on a survey of Raine & Horne agents, with respondents saying a nicely presented lawn could increase the value of a home by up to 20 per cent. Based on a median house price of $519,000, this equates to an extra $100,000 in value.
This project has corroborated these findings and extrapolated them to rental conditions. According to the research, homes with turfed lawns attract a market premium as they are desired for the benefits they provide.
The research, which is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Turf Fund, calculated the extra rent a property earns as a result of installing turf. This ranges from $1.55 per square metre a year in Hobart up to $4.45 per square metre a year in Sydney.
A surface for the whole community
We all know that public turfed areas provide an amenity to the community. At one end of the spectrum it provides an area for amateur athletes of all ages to train and play sport year-round. At the other end it offers a soft, natural environment for dog walking, meeting with friends or simply a place for the community to read a book in the sun.
For the first time in Australia, work has been done to quantify this benefit. The researchers describe this as “Willingness to Pay”, but this could roughly translate to the value that the community place on turfed areas.
As an example, the study has found that in Sydney, the public place a value of $31.51 for every m2 of turfed community sports field. At an average of 9000m2 for a football field, the study tells us that the public value turfed sporting fields at approximately $283,590.
A quick drive around suburban Australia will tell you that’s a lot of value to the community being created by the turf industry.
But what about the environment
Carbon dioxide emissions are a global issue, affecting almost every facet of the natural and human environment. It’s the number one priority for many businesses, governments and even households. This study has used economic modelling to showcase the powerful role that turf can play and position the industry as an important player in improving environmental outcomes.
Turf has been proven to be a productive sequester of carbon dioxide. Previous research found that during the first 25-30 years, turf can be expected to sequester 0.34-1.4 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year.
According to Sam Miller, project lead at Balmoral Group, the company responsible for delivering TU17006, it’s important to put the impacts into a wider context.
“Given that the average car contributes about 4.5 metric tonnes of carbon a year, it’s safe to say that the Australian turf industry is removing hundreds of cars off the road.”
Jenny Zadro, Market Development Manager, Turf Australia, agreed and urged growers to share these positive stories.
“Whilst the contribution at an individual household level may be nominal, like all activities relating to climate and the environment – every bit counts and households, large businesses and government should be encouraged to leverage the positive environmental impact of turf.”
Urban Heat Island
We have covered the topic of the Urban Heat Island effect in this magazine, through the levy-funded project Mitigation of the urban heat island (TU1800) and it’s interesting to cross-reference some of the evidence that a lack of green space heats up our urban environments (see page XX) with tangible proof of the impact of that heat.
It’s known that the impacts of urban heat islands go far beyond hot summers and sleepless nights. It is well established that extreme heat is a major cause of death, particularly for children younger than four and adults over 65. Those impacts can be hard to attribute solely to the urban heat island, but an easier conversation to have revolves around the financial impact.
Put simply, turf reduces the average temperature of the surrounding neighbourhood, reducing the need for people to resort to air conditioning, which saves them money.
Looking at the two biggest cities of Sydney and Melbourne and extrapolating the reduced need for cooling across the cities, $1.4m and $0.8m is saved each year from turfed public parks.
The Big Picture
The benefits of turf that have been quantified in this economic study become truly powerful when we aggregate them to demonstrate the positive financial impact that turf provides. Unfortunately, we were only able to accurately measure the aggregate impact for Greater Melbourne and Greater Sydney due to existing data on the total turf cover.
However, the story in Melbourne and Sydney tell a truly impactful story.
In Melbourne, the total benefits of turf cover across each of the five benefit categories is a staggering $6.02B per year. In Sydney, it is $5.32B.’
Thanks to Turf Australia for great work. For more info please follow this link: https://www.turfaustralia.com.au/…/2020-turf-balmoral-proje…