Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

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Arboriculture Contributes £709 million to UK GDP

Author:  RHS
Last Updated:  09/11/2018

For the first time a report* by Oxford Economics for the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group** reveals the significant value of the UK’s ornamental horticulture and landscape industries. In light of its economic importance, the industry contends that it isn’t being taken seriously by Government for the immense benefits it delivers.

Economic Impact:

  • £24.2 billion is the total GDP footprint of the UK’s horticulture industries in 2017, including its ‘multiplier impacts’.
  • This footprint supported 568,700 jobs amounting to 1.6 percent of total UK employment
  • £5.4 billion in tax revenues to the Exchequer were linked to ornamental horticulture
  • This is greater than the contributions of the aerospace manufacturing industry in the same year.

Social and environmental impact:

  • 25 million people in England make weekly leisure visits to natural environments such as parks, gardens, or rural areas.
  • Half of all UK adults undertake gardening activities every week – 49.5% of the population
  • In the UK, active visits to green spaces were estimated to provide a societal gain worth around £4.4 billion in 2015, attributable to the improvements to health and well-being delivery
  • In 2015 alone, the UK’s vegetation provided air quality regulation with an economic value of £1.1 billion and averted 1,900 deaths from pollution.
  • Landscape Services accounted for 55% of all direct GDP contributions (£6.8bn) of UK ornamental horticulture industries in 2017; more than the other six sectors combined
  • 53% of all direct employment (196,300 jobs) from UK ornamental horticulture industries in 2017 was from Landscape Services;
  • Landscape Services industry directly contributes £660m per year to the Exchequer, £880m including wider landscaping activities
  • Households spent around £2.4 billion on the services of gardeners and landscapers in 2017.
  • UK manufacturers sold around £1.3 billion worth of garden goods and products in 2017. Which directly contributed an estimated £489 million to UK GDP
  • UK households spent around £7.5 billion on garden goods in 2017 and is equivalent to £1 in every £100 of household spending
  • Gardens make better places to live, and along with communal green spaces and natural vegetation provide a £131 billion aggregate boost to Britain’s house prices.
  • Ornamentals: plants worth around £1.35 billion were produced and sold in the UK during 2017. The UK imported plants worth £1.2 billion with around two-thirds being cut flowers. This supported 15,700 jobs and contribution £750m to UK GDP and an estimated £122 million in tax revenues.
  • Arboriculture: There were around 20,900 workers engaged in arboricultural activities and made £709 million in contributions to UK GDP
  • Tourism: £2.9 billion worth of tourism spending was attributable to parks and gardens. International visitors to the UK accounted for over three-quarters (76 percent) and contributing £2.2bn. The remaining £690 million was accounted for by domestic (intra-UK) visits, including holidays that involved overnight stays, as well as day trips.

Whilst parks, gardens and green spaces provide a £131 billion aggregate boost to Britain’s house prices as part of the appeal of nature, homes being built without private gardens are on the rise. Predictions show that gardens are getting smaller and nearly a quarter of new homes don’t have gardens at all. In 2020 one million more homes won’t have a private garden compared to 1995***

Some 568,700 jobs were supported by the industry in 2017, amounting to 1.6 percent of total UK employment, yet horticulture is hardly referenced in the national curriculum or promoted as a valued career path.

Despite ornamental horticulture generating £5.4 billion in revenue for HM Government in 2017, the industry has been largely ignored and receives little direct support or fiscal incentives. Yet it delivers exceptional public value in terms of the environmental benefit it provides to the nation.

On Monday 29 October 2019, one of the Nation’s best loved gardeners, Alan Titchmarsh, will speak on behalf of the ornamental horticulture industry at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Horticulture and Gardening Reception in Westminster and call on MPs to better recognise and invest in this vital industry.

Alan Titchmarsh says:

"We must urgently stop the demise of the UK's gardens and landscapes for the sake of the economy and, equally importantly, for the sake of our health and well-being and that of the environment and wildlife. The health-giving properties of green spaces are well documented and their provision helps to relieve pressure on our troubled National Health Service.

“This report shows the huge value of ornamental horticulture to the UK’s economy. Last year households spent around £7.5 billion on garden goods, with manufacturers selling around £1.3 billion worth of garden goods and products. That’s £1 in every £100 of household spending going on horticultural products and services. If horticulture continues to be undervalued and overlooked and we carry on building houses without gardens it will have a devastating impact not only on our national economy but also on the environment and our living conditions as a whole.

“The UK’s commercial growers grew ornamental plants with a production value of £1.35 billion in the UK last year – with Brexit this is an industry we must support and grow, the opportunities are immense.”

Whilst Councils across the UK face an average 40% cut to parks and greenspace budgets , the Report reveals that £2.9 billion worth of tourism was attributable to parks and gardens in 2017.

Alan finishes:

“On top of the huge economic value this industry brings to the UK, it is also critical for the health benefits it delivers.

“In the same year, UK’s vegetation provided air quality improvement with an economic value of £1.1 billion and averted 1,900 deaths from pollution.

“The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group, chaired by Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, is a body of industry leaders and innovators, including retailers, gardening charities and industry bodies, they have long been championing the immense value and benefits of ornamental horticulture to safeguard the Nation’s future – it’s time to sit up, take note and act to support this invaluable and immense industry for a better future for all.”

The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group is now calling on Government to:

  1. Create opportunities for the industry to scale up UK production in light of Brexit
  2. Nurture innovation funding in horticultural science for environmental resilience and health benefits
  3. Support the development of a skills roadmap, to ensure a pipeline of talent to meet current and future workforce needs.


Full report and webpage


*The Economic Impact of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping in the UK: An independent report by Oxford Economics for the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group, 2018

It has been funded by; The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) and the Arboricultural Association.

The report is the first time the economic contribution and scale has been mapped revealing its true size and value, as well as looking at the consequential impact the industry has on the vital areas of the environment, health and wellbeing.

The Economic Impact of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping in the UK Report has been produced for the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable, a sector led group formed in 2014 to strengthen co-operation between UK government and the horticulture, landscape and gardening industry.

Full report link to webpage

**The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable is a sector led group formed in 2014 with support from Defra to strengthen co-operation between UK government and the ornamental horticulture, landscape and gardening industry. They meet 4 times a year and membership includes: Arboricultural Association, British Association of Landscape Industries, Chartered Institute of Horticulture Horticultural Trades Association, LANDEX, National Farmers Union, Royal Horticultural Society and The Landscape show.

***Reports suggests that by next year 2.16million homes will be without a private garden, compared to 1.6 million in 1995, and that the figure will continue to rise steeply to 2.6million by 2020. Source

The proportion of GB adults with a garden has fallen from just over 80% in 2000 to around 77% in 2016. HTA Garden Market Analysis 2017.

New homes' gardens average 113sqm and 26% don't have gardens, up from 18% in 1996. B&Q Yougov report