The UK’s “original green economy” could be worth £42 billion by 2030

  • New research finds that the industry could support more than 763,000 jobs by 2030 alongside providing a range of additional economic, social and environmental benefits
  • The UK’s 33 million gardeners and other green space users can play a vital role in tackling climate change
  • The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG) are calling for a closer relationship across government to help unlock the full potential of this original ‘green economy’ industry

The ornamental horticulture and landscaping industry is set to contribute nearly £42 billion to the UK and support over 760,000 jobs by 2030, according to a landmark report released today.

The independent ‘Growing a Green Economy: The importance of ornamental horticulture and landscaping to the UK’ report was commissioned by the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG). It found the industry could be worth £13bn more than in 2019 and support an extra 100,000 jobs. The report showcases an industry with the potential to make a huge contribution to the UK’s economic, social, and environmental renewal over the next decade.

The research identifies how barriers to growth can be unlocked through a collaborative approach between government and industry, ensuring the sector is at the forefront of exciting new trade opportunities, can develop the skills for our future workforce, and lead the way on environmental sustainability.

The ornamental horticulture and landscaping industry already underpins almost half of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. With 33 million gardeners and millions more utilising green spaces, the sector is eager to play an ever-increasing role in achieving ambitious climate change targets – particularly in the build up to the UN COP26 Climate Conference – as well as playing a significant role in growing the UK economy.

Alongside the report, the OHRG has also published a detailed action plan ‘Unlocking green growth’, outlining what policy changes are needed and how the industry and government can work together to bring the socio-economic research findings to reality. This includes increasing UK plant and tree production to ‘build back greener’ and the wider ambitions around how the industry can help the government meet its environmental sustainability targets.

The action plan also sets out other areas for future potential collaboration with government including on how ‘green trade’ can be increased, how planners can better incorporate green space; how outdoor space can lead to urban renewal and improved health; and how we can develop future workforce skills.

Researched and written by Oxford Economics and Foresight Factory, the ‘Growing a Green Economy’ report builds on previous analysis that found the industry was worth £28.8 billion in 2019. The British public’s embrace of outdoor green space during the pandemic, as well as the industry’s role in combating climate change, are contributory factors to the industry being projected to be worth £13 billion more by 2030.
Elsewhere in the report, the OHRG found that the industry could support:
  • An extra £2.5 billion in direct GDP contributions to the UK economy per year by 2030 through improved capacity, productivity and sustainability
  • An extra £1.8 billion in total GDP contributions to the UK economy per year by 2030 by safeguarding the UK’s domestic and non-domestic gardens and green spaces
  • £9.6 billion of extra growth in annual GDP contributions by 2030 through a co-ordinated approach by government, industry, and research providers to R&D that will help to tackle climate change through innovative and sustainable solutions
  • A total of 763,400 jobs by 2030, an increase from 674,200 in 2019. This includes directly employing an additional 39,000 people
Victoria Prentis MP, Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food, said: “The pandemic has brought home to many of us just how beneficial gardening and being outdoors can be to our mental and physical well-being. You don’t have to go far to see evidence of the skill and dedication of the ornamental horticulture and landscaping sector in enhancing our environment – whether this is in a beautiful tree-lined city street or in one of our carefully landscaped and colorful parks or gardens. 
 “This report rightly highlights the role of the ornamental horticulture and landscaping sector in our economy, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with the OHRG and its partners to build on the sector’s already impressive reputation for the quality of its plants and trees, its highly skilled workers and high environmental standards. Close collaboration between the Government and the sector reflects our shared ambition for a truly vibrant sector, with a sustainable and economically prosperous future.”

Gardener and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh MBE said: “Millions of people in the UK enjoy gardening and millions more rely on outdoor spaces for their mental and physical wellbeing. While it is well-known that the ornamental horticulture and landscaping industry enriches all our lives, this report makes clear that that is undeniably true and the economic, social and environmental benefits to be had from expanding or enlarging the sector are enormous. I’m delighted that the importance of ornamental horticulture and landscaping at the very heart of British life has been recognised and hope that this continues in the future”.

OHRG Chair Sue Biggs said: “The value of the UK ornamental horticulture and landscaping industry is huge and yet strangely underappreciated. As successful as our original green industry is, there is still so much untapped growth and this report demonstrates the enormous potential we have to develop further, bringing so many benefits through increased tax revenues, improved physical and mental health and wellbeing, and vital measures to combat climate change and help meet the government’s environmental targets.
“But to fulfil this potential, we need to work even more collaboratively with government in the future to achieve our shared goals. There is an opportunity for our industry to play a vital role in helping the UK to ‘build back greener’ following the impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 crisis, and to ensure that ornamental horticulture and landscaping becomes the economic powerhouse that it deserves to be.”

James Barnes, Chair of the OHRG’s Commercial Working Group, said: “Our industry is integral to the fabric of British life, not only economically but also culturally as seen during the pandemic when access to outdoor green space was vital to millions across the country, including the three million new gardeners who took up the activity for the first time.”

Martin Emmett, Chair of the OHRG’s Education and Employment Working Group, said: “'We need to prepare the ground for capturing and developing the talent that will provide the greener landscapes of the future. This report highlights the fantastic opportunities for future careers that will enhance our environment and wellbeing. It is vital that we work with government to support the learning and recruitment that will drive through the positive change we need”.

Alistair Griffith, Chair of the OHRG’s Research and Development Working Group, said: “Our industry is at the cutting edge of scientific development, something that is particularly important as the UK finds ways to cut its carbon emissions through environmentally sustainable solutions. Greater focus on horticultural scientific R&D is vital for tackling climate change.”

Read the full report here
Read our action plan here

Notes to editors

The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG) is a body of industry representative organisations and the UK’s leading gardening charity that have come together to offer a single voice to champion the value and benefits of the UK’s ornamental horticulture and landscaping sector to government.
The ornamental horticulture and landscaping sector includes garden centres, public and private gardens, commercial growers, arboriculture, and domestic and commercial landscaping. It includes British-based multinationals, through to independent, multi-generation family run businesses.
OHRG members include Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the Arboricultural Association, British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), Chartered Institute of Horticulture, Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), Landex, The Landscape Show, National Farmers Union (NFU), Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)
Oxford Economics
Oxford Economics was founded in 1981 as a commercial venture with Oxford University’s business college to provide economic forecasting and modelling to UK companies and financial institutions expanding abroad. Since then, they have become one of the world’s foremost independent global advisory firms, providing reports, forecasts and analytical tools on more than 200 countries, 250 industrial sectors, and 7,000 cities and regions.
Foresight Factory
Since 1996, Foresight Factory has been applying trends to help its clients see further. They bring businesses closer to their customers by helping them alleviate risks, strengthen strategic and brand relevance, power sustainable growth, and target and spend optimally.

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