The stunning Windsor Estate welcomes millions of visitors each year. However, the value of the 6,300 hectare Estate goes far beyond that of a tourist attraction, delivering a wealth of vital services to the surrounding areas.
Using a form of natural capital accounting1, a recent independent study commissioned by The Crown Estate, calculated that the value of services derived from the Windsor Estate’s complex ecosystems is at least £21 million p.a., with around two thirds of this contributed by the value of its vast, accessible green space2.
The study revealed how the land, particularly forestry, plays an important role in local flood risk mitigation, retaining 49% more water than surrounding areas and therefore reducing the risk of river flooding in many nearby towns and villages. The Estate’s ecosystem also helps improve water and air quality. It allows water to retain a higher degree of vital nutrients than elsewhere in the local area which in turn lowers the cost to water companies of water purification services. And it reduces carbon emissions, drawing 56,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions out of the air each year.
The findings have given us a deeper understanding of the value of the Windsor Estate to the local community. This adds to our understanding of the Estate’s role in providing ecologically important habitats for a wide range of rare flora and fauna, particularly through its Sites of Special Scientific Interest, all of which have been awarded Natural England’s highest possible rating for their condition.
But these natural resources and rich ecosystems, evolved over thousands of years, are vulnerable to human impact. We therefore remain committed to protecting and enhancing them so that today and long into the future their benefits can be felt by visitors, the local community, wildlife and the environment.
1 ONS 2017: Principles of Natural Capital Accounting. 'Natural capital accounts are a series of interconnected accounts that provide a structured set of information relating to the stocks of natural capital and flows of services supplied by them. Accounts are of two kinds: 1) physical accounts (which classify and record measures of extent, condition and annual service flow) and 2) monetary accounts (which assign a monetary valuation to selected services on an annual basis and record an overall valuation of the natural asset’s ability to generate future flows of services). See: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/methodologies/principlesofnaturalcapitalaccounting
The study conducted on behalf of The Crown Estate used a form of capital accounting which examined flows of services from ecosystems.
2 Independent research conducted by Route2 on behalf of The Crown Estate in 2019. For a summary of the research findings see: thecrownestate.co.uk/valuing-windsor-estate and a summary of the research methodology see: http://thecrownestate.co.uk/valuing-windsor-estate-methodologies