A Guide to Capturing Benefits

Organisation: The Rivers Trust

Location: National

Type: Technical Support & Training

The purpose of this resource is to provide guidance and suggestions for capturing more meaningful metrics on engagement (citizen science, volunteering etc) and the social and economic benefits of work by CaBA partnerships.

The Catchment Based Approach aims to deliver a range of environmental, social and economic benefits, and aims to protect our precious water environments for the benefit of us all. Hence a key goal of CaBA is to improve people’s lives (economists call this ‘improving wellbeing or social welfare’).

We are interested in benefits which have a clear monetary value (e.g. the reduced cost of water treatment) as well as the wider economic, social and other benefits that result from improvements to the water environment.

Many benefits fall under multiple headings; for example farmer uptake of nutrient management plans may result in financial cost savings for the farmer (economic), improved water quality (environmental), more angling (physical and mental health benefits), more jobs (social benefits) and more income for the businesses that supply anglers (economic).

The Catchment Based Approach, reflected in the annual reporting process, is to collect information on all types of environmental, social, economic and other benefits. In this guide, we do not separate benefits into these different categories since they all contribute to improving people’s lives, or ‘improved social welfare’,  to use economic jargon.

CaBA may improve people’s lives in many ways including:-

  • Increasing incomes for people/business from paid work, contracts, business and services
  • Reducing costs for business e.g. reduced water treatment costs, cheaper flood risk insurance, more resource-efficient farm businesses
  • Providing more or improved employment opportunities
  • Reducing the risk of flooding (financial, social and health benefits)
  • Capital gains e.g. higher house prices resulting from environmental improvement
  • Increasing carbon sequestration – thus reducing future climate change
  • Environmental improvements – a better place to live where people and wildlife flourish
  • Provision of skills and training – leading to employment or wellbeing benefits
  • Participating in environmental improvement through volunteering and citizen science
  • More/improved recreation
  • More/improved social interaction

Some of these outcomes can in principle be measured in conventional financial terms. For example, reduced cost of water treatment increased profit for a Kayak hire firm and increased income for a person working on riverside enhancement projects. In practice, collection and analysis of such information is time-consuming and often difficult because much of the information is private. Catchment Partnerships will have limited ability to collect such information – but may be able to provide useful examples, snapshots or indicators.

Many outcomes clearly improve people’s lives but are hard to quantify. For example, there is a wealth of information on the mental and physical benefits that people gain from recreation, volunteering and spending time in natural environments but no consensus on how these benefits can be measured in monetary terms. Nonetheless we can improve our understanding of these outcomes by collecting data on indicators for some of these outcomes; for example the number of recreational visits to an area of enhanced riverbank. Collection of such data could enable a more accurate assessment of benefits by a trained economist if required in the future.

Table 1 provides examples of the range of benefits that could arise from three types of delivery that CaBA partnerships often undertake. Table 2 builds upon this by outlining data requirements in order to capture such benefits.


Table 1. Example of how three typical types of CaBA delivery realise various benefits

Table 1. Example Of How Three Typical Types Of CaBA Delivery Realise Various Benefits

Table 2: Potential Benefits from CaBA Activities and Data required to capture them

Table 2 Potential Benefits From CaBA Activities And Data Required To Capture Them

This document was prepared by Dan Marsh (dkvmarsh@gmail.com) on behalf of the Catchment Based Approach – dated 20th March 2019.

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