How can geographers evaluate the ‘value’ or ‘worth’ of the River Lyn drainage basin?

Look closely at the photographs in the gallery linked below They all show different locations within the Exmoor National Park.    Try to analyse them now from the perspective of their potential value.  Discuss with a partner or members of a small group how you might go about identifying and quantifying this value in the broader terms discussed earlier.

Link to Flickr Gallery

To focus your thinking and discussions use the table in Resource 6 to make notes and record your ideas.  This table suggests you look at the environments from the perspective of the value they might provide for ecosystem services divided into the three categories: provisioning services (such as the value to be gained from food and water supplies); cultural services (such as the value of spiritual, emotional and health related benefits) and support services (such as the value of oxygen generation and nutrient recycling that are critical to maintaining life on Earth).

As a final challenge once you have identified a ‘value’ e.g. the potential health benefits of taking a regular short walk across the moor think about whether you might be able to estimate a monetary value associated with it.  In the photograph below a man and a woman walk across the moor above Lynmouth.  He is recovering from a recent heart attack and she is mourning the death of her husband of 40 years.

couple walking

How might this regular walking be of value to them both physically and emotionally?  .  

Could there also be an indirect economic benefit from their regular walking also?  

For example if the man recovering from a heart attack finds that regular exercise builds up his physical fitness and also his feeling of general well-being he may feel he needs  fewer GP appointments and he may return to work earlier than anticipated.  As a consequence the company that employs him will have to pay less sickness benefit and he will be earning a salary again quicker than expected which the government will tax.    In the same way the woman may find that the exercise she gets and the time it provides for her to remember all the good times she spent with her husband might mean that she no longer needs fewer doctor visits and prescriptions for ant-depressants or sleeping pills.  It is worth remembering when you consider the potential economic benefits of the interaction of this man and woman with the Lyn environment that the National Health Service has to budget for the following costs:

  • The average cost of a 15 minute appointment with a GP: £45
  • The average cost of a 10 minute appointment with a Nurse Practitioner: £17
  • The average cost of an outpatient appointment: £110
  • The average cost of one overnight stay in hospital: £250
  • The average cost of a 7 minute telephone conversation with a GP: £27
  • The average cost of a house visit from a GP lasting 23 minutes: £114
  • The average cost of one prescription (includes cost of drug): £41
  • The average annual cost of one person to the NHS: £1600

Full details at:

Consolidate your thinking

The film below Explore the Lyn Catchment: one landscape, many views further develops the concept of ‘value’ through the perspectives of five stakeholders (people who interact with the River Lyn and its surrounding environment in different ways).

Print off five copies of the table you used previously (Resource 6) and make notes about the ‘value’ that each of the stakeholders associates with the River Lyn and its catchment.  Alternatively you could use just one table but write your notes for each stakeholder in different colours so that you can get an accurate idea of the spread of benefits. Listed below are examples of other potential stakeholders who could be added to those in the film.  Choose one of these stakeholders and spend some time reflecting and evaluating on the ‘value’ they might very well get from the River Lyn and its catchment.  If they were now to be interviewed for the film what would they answer to the question:

How does the River Lyn benefit you and what value do you get out of it? 

In pairs now prepare and film a three minute ‘vox pop’ interview (alternating the role of interviewer and stakeholder) that can be presented to the rest of your group.  Do these interviews present new or alternative benefits that haven’t arisen previously?

Back To Home Page 

1:Lynmouth Flood Disaster  


3:The benefits of the Lyn ecosystem

4: Writing up your Enquiry