New LIFE for Welsh Raised Bogs: Evaluating the impact on people and the economy

We have looked at how the LIFE Welsh Raised Bogs project has impacted people and the economy. The 'socio-economic' report looks at economic and social impacts from the project start in January 2018 to February 2022. It also includes additional committed expenditure to March 2023 and anticipated future expenditure to June 2024.

The report shows the project has:

  • boosted the Welsh economy
  • contributed significant social benefits to local communities  
  • created jobs in Wales
  • raised awareness of the project sites
  • helped increase the use of project sites for recreation

Report summary

Economic impact

The total direct impact (from the project’s direct employment and non-staff expenditure) on the local economy is estimated to be approximately 24.67 job years and £981,530 GVA over the project period, based on total local expenditure of £1,372,710. Applying a multiplier of 1.2, to include indirect and induced effects, gives an estimate of the total impact on the local economy as approximately 29.61 job years and £1,177,836 GVA over the project period.

The total direct impact (from the project’s direct employment and non-staff expenditure) on the Wales economy (including the local and regional economies) was approximately 36.08 job years and £1,462,572 GVA over the project period, based on total Wales expenditure of £2,192,848. Applying a multiplier of 1.6, to include indirect and induced effects, gives an estimate of the total impact on the Wales economy as approximately 57.73 job years and £2,340,115 GVA over the project period. 

Corresponding figures for the average annual impact of the project over the project period are estimated to be the creation of 7.12 job years and £283,133 GVA in the local economy, and 13.88 job years and £562,528 GVA in the Wales economy (inclusive of the local and regional economies).

When additional elements (including current committed work by contractors, future anticipated work and employment) are factored in, the total impact on the local economy increases to 47.67 FTE job years and £1,925,807 GVA. The total impact on the Wales economy, including additional elements, is 93.96 FTE job years and £3,854,691 GVA.

Direct (staff and non-staff) project expenditure spent outside Wales is calculated to be £1,315,278 (27% of the total) This expenditure will support businesses and jobs elsewhere in the UK, but these impacts have not been modelled as part of this study.

Socio-economic impact

There has been a noticeable impact in terms of improved awareness of the sites and their varied importance amongst some communities, with the restoration work even inspiring local groups, artists, storytellers, and photographers. There was however some confusion around whether the project wanted to encourage more visitors onto the bogs for recreation. Although some communities are still not clear what work was being undertaken on the bogs and why, there was a clear effort to raise awareness through activities such as information stands at events and guided visits of the bogs for neighbouring landowners and local representatives (e.g. local council members).

Consultation indicated that some project sites have seen increased visitor numbers because of the project, particularly the larger sites (Cors Caron and Cors Fochno) where most of the work has been concentrated. Those visiting also tended to visit as part of a wider trip, and also visit or stay in nearby areas feeding into local economies. When thinking about the impact of the project on visitor numbers it is important to also consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it influenced people’s behaviour and perceptions on nature.

Most perceived social impacts from the project have been positive. Commonly observed were an improved knowledge and understanding of raised bogs, their history and wildlife, and an improved appreciation for the value of raised bogs. Broader social impacts reported were improved education and learning about the bogs and their conservation value. As was a greater public awareness and understanding along with an enhanced sense of place and/or pride of place within communities. However, some community groups reported little to no social impacts from the project, with some not fully understanding the project and restoration work that is being undertaken. 

Despite this, short to medium-term economic benefits were reported by most consultees. This was largely due to direct employment opportunities, the appointment of contractors, and supply of materials for the restoration work. It was acknowledged that once the work is complete, ongoing involvement will be reduced to a maintenance capacity in subsequent years, so there are less perceived long term economic impacts. Although it was not clear to all consultees whether it was local contractors and suppliers who were benefiting from restoration work, a limited increase in perceived levels of spending within local economies was reported. There were no observed negative economic impacts to the local areas surrounding the sites.

Employment and wages

Between January 2018 and February 2022, NRW employed 12 individuals as part of the project team for the LIFE+ project, including both full-time and part-time workers. All of the employees were based either in NRW’s offices, at home and/or on site. Total direct staff expenditure over the project was £951,226 (including social charges and eligible statutory costs).

Total employment on the project amounted to 22.9 full time equivalent (FTE) job years over a period of 4 years 2 months (4.16 years), or an average of 5.5 FTE jobs per year, for the Wales economy. This employment contributed £951,226 directly to Wales GVA over the 4.16 year period, an average of £228,659 annually.

It is estimated that an additional £310,000 is to be spent on direct staff expenditure from March 2022 to March 2023, and a further £360,000 from April 2023 to June 2024.

All direct staff expenditure - £1,621,226 - has been or will be spent in Wales.

Non-staff expenditure

Between January 2018 and February 2022, non-staff expenditure by NRW totalled £2,019,919. Of this total, £651,839 (32%) was spent in the local economy (within 10 miles of a site) with a further £589,783 (29%) spent in the regional economy (>10 miles but within Wales). The greatest single proportion (39%) of goods and services was sourced from outside the regional economy i.e. outside Wales.

This expenditure is reflected in direct changes in the turnover (gross output) of local and regional businesses. This is estimated to contribute approximately £260,660 GVA and 6.70 job years in the local economy and a further £250,686 GVA and 6.49 job years in the regional economy. This amounts to a total £511,346 GVA and 13.19 job years in the Wales economy.

This amounts to a total of £298,467 expenditure, £122,920 GVA and 3.17 job years in the Wales economy during each year of the project.

Additional expenditure committed from March 2022 to the end of March 2023 totals £789,808 including: local economy £252,437 (32%); regional economy £305,492 (39%); and outside Wales £231,878 (29%).

Future expenditure, should the project be extended to June 2024, is estimated to be  £399,103. Based on reasonable assumptions of likely location of suppliers, this future expenditure is anticipated to be split as follows: local economy £31,000 (8%); regional economy £63,000 (16%); and outside Wales £305,104 (76%).

Total direct non-staff expenditure is estimated to be £3,208,830; 59% has been or will be spent in Wales and 41% outside Wales.

How we assessed the impact

The assessment of the economic impact of the restoration of the LIFE+ Welsh Raised Bogs project involved:

  • collating and analysing data
  • reviewing literature
  • defining the local and regional economy for the assessment
  • analysing the project expenditure and employment data relating to the local and regional economy
  • calculating economic indicators and applying multipliers in order to assess total economic impacts on the local and regional economies in terms of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs or job years and Gross Value Added (GVA).

The methods used in this assessment were informed by the evaluation methodology developed for the Humberhead Peatlands LIFE+ Project in 2019.

In the assessment, the ‘local economy’ was defined as including an area within a 10-mile radius of the project sites.  The assessment also considered impacts on the economy greater than 10 miles but within Wales, referred to as the ‘regional economy’ in this report. The ‘Wales economy’ was defined as including both the local and regional economies. Multipliers of 1.2 and 1.6 were used to assess the indirect and induced impacts of the project on the local and Wales economies respectively.

The assessment of socio-economic impacts involved collating and analysing data using the following approaches:

  • telephone interviews with key stakeholders of Cors Fochno, Cors Caron and stakeholders with a Wales-wide overview of all project sites
  • online questionnaires shared in both Welsh and English to stakeholders and the general public via email and LIFE Welsh Raised Bog social media accounts.

A review and analysis of earlier surveys carried out by NRW during engagement events at Cors Fochno and Cors Caron was also undertaken.

Who wrote the report

The report was written by Cumulus Consultants, an independent consultancy providing research, analysis and insight to the land and environment sectors, in association with TACP, a multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy based in Wales.

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