This report reviews the literature, including case studies, dealing with the economic benefits of creating parks, preserving working land, preserving land prone to flooding, conserving ecosystem benefits, and preventing sprawl development. Parks and preserved lands boost land values and property taxes, attract residents and businesses, encourage economic development, boost the economy of surrounding areas, save money over some types of development, preserve ecosystem services, and reduce health care costs. One example given in the paper is how New York used $1.2 billion to restore and protect natural land in New York City’s watersheds, which prevented the need to build a $6-$8 billion water filtration plant.
A study of 113 rural counties in the American West, 43% containing federally wilderness areas, shows that for the period of 1970 to 2000, there is a significant positive correlation between the percent of land in designated wilderness and population, income and employment growth. This correlation is strongest for counties not adjacent to metropolitan areas. Wilderness designation promotes, rather than limits growth, and may promote demographic and economic growth at rates that can jeopardize natural resources.
This is a case study of Duff Park, which came into being via a partnership between the state, Murrysville, multiple community organizations, and various individuals. The park now includes a nature preserve containing an important old-growth deciduous forest and five miles of trails.
A study of the direct and indirect impacts of outdoor recreation travel in Pennsylvania documents the substantial contribution of recreation activities to Pennsylvania’s economy. The study documented recreation related spending in excess of $4 billion which supported 84,120 jobs and generated $770 million in taxes.
An overview paper of the economic benefits of open space conservation, primarily applicable to suburban and rural areas, where many open-space conservation battles are being fought. It discusses how open space conservation can lead to property tax stability, increased revenues from ecotourism, the maintenance of property values, the prevention of costly infrastructure construction and service costs associated with water and sewage problems, and the avoidance of trash removal and landfill costs.
The creation of riparian buffers in agricultural landscapes can improve water quality, but also take land out of productive agricultural use. However, planting and harvesting of non-timber products (fruits, nuts and ornamentals) can create both environmental and economic benefits, including a gross income of $60,934/ha/year.
Presentation on the PA Natural Heritage Program
This study looks at the impact of permanent land conservation (through acquisition or through conservation easement) on tax rates in Vermont towns. In general, the median municipal tax bill is higher in towns that have the most taxable property, and lower in the towns with the least taxable property value. This study concludes that on average, tax bills are lower in towns with the most conserved land, which is likely due to open space tending to require few public services.
This study calculates the economic value generated by open space in the Lehigh Valley. It finds that open space adds significant value to the regional
economy with benefits accruing to businesses, governments and households--some benefits being direct revenue streams to individuals or governments,
some representing asset appreciation and some accruing in the form of
Investing in parks and natural areas yields fiscal relief, improved public health, strengthened neighborhoods, environmental protection, and the preservation of natural beauty, all of which makes communities more livable. Open space protection does not “cost”; rather, it “pays”. Examples include San Antonio, Texas’ Riverwalk Park, which was created for $425,000 and is now the most popular attraction of the city’s $3.5 billion tourism industry, and New Jersey, where the $65 million protection of the Sterling Forest from a proposed development avoided the construction of a $160 million water treatment plant.
Municipal investment in open space and farmland is usually less costly than allowing development, though the cost savings may not be seen for several years. This resource paper gives several case studies throughout New Jersey.
The Trust for Public Land conducted an analysis of the return on the investment of dollars for federal land acquisition at sixteen locations that received significant Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) acquisition funds between 1998 and 2009. For the 131,000 acres of land preserved, every $1 of LWCF funds spent returns almost $4 in economic value. Additionally, the 10.6 million annual visitors to these areas spend $511 million in the surrounding local communities.
What is the role of trees, fields and forests in filtering water, cleansing the air, controlling flooding and more? How much is it worth? What are all the other economic benefits of open space in Berks County. This report lays out the numbers in 28 colorful and eye catching pages.
To show how a strategy of land conservation is integral to economic health, this report illustrates that parks and open space increase property tax revenue and yields a better return on investment than development. It reviews the economic benefits of farmland preservation, shows how forest cover decreases the cost of treating drinking water, enumerates the economic value of urban trees, and examines the role of parks and open space in attracting businesses and affluent retirees to a community.
This research project estimated the impact of different land uses on residential property values of 8,090 single-family houses in Berks County, PA. Within 400 meters of a house, open space had the most positive impact on home prices, and, between 400 and 1600 meters, only government owned land or eased lands positively impacted residential property values.
Although visitor spending in surrounding communities is the most obvious economic impact of wilderness areas, the designation of wilderness areas also attracts new residents and businesses, creates a high number of jobs in recreation-based industries, increases the tax base and has long term benefits for industries such as commercial fisheries. The influx of new residents and businesses can also change a community’s culture, cause a housing shortage and increase crime congestion and crime.
This report provides an in-depth look at the declining environmental health of the Jersey shore and an examination of the impact this has on New Jersey’s economy. New Jersey’s tourism, municipal water supplies and coastal fisheries depend on the health of the Jersey Shore. The declining health has caused a 20% decrease in total commercial fishery revenues and the need to install a $5 million desalination plant in Cape May.
A review of the now quite extensive economics literature on the value of open space, this study covers more than 60 articles published in the past 25 years that use the various methodologies. The analysis focuses primarily on the value of open space in and around urbanized areas, including parks, greenbelts, natural areas and wildlife habitats, wetlands, and farmland.