Biodiversity encompasses the diversity of life – the varying and different species, genes, and ecosystems of the Earth. The ongoing loss of biodiversity threatens human well-being and makes the need for conservation ever more pressing.
Initiatives in Pennsylvania and on a national level promote the study of bird populations and the protection of their habitat.
This resource offers an extensive list of studies, papers, and articles on the economic benefits of river conservation, with summaries of their content.
The conservation of natural lands and of working farms and forests can generate financial returns, both to governments and individuals, and create significant cost savings. [Print version of ConservationTools.org guide]
Wetlands filter and clean water, which decreases the costs of drinking water treatment, and they reduce the frequency and intensity of floods. They support the life cycle of 75% of the fish and shellfish commercially harvested in the U.S., and up to 90% of the recreational fish catch. For example, in South Carolina it would require a $5 million treatment plant to remove the pollutants filtered by the Congaree Bottomland Hardwood Swamp.
This study gives five key points on how city parks are a source of positive economic benefits and provides case studies for each. City parks positively affect real property values; increase municipal revenues; attract and retain affluent retirees; attract knowledge workers and companies; and attract homebuyers.
Forests, riparian buffers, wetlands and other natural lands are essential for the protection of water quality and aquatic habitat.
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.
Healthy, functioning watersheds slow surface runoff, increase water infiltration into the soil, naturally filter pollutants, decrease soil erosion, and moderate water quantity by decreasing flooding and recharging groundwater reserves. For every 10% increase in forest cover in a drinking water’s source area, treatment and chemical costs decrease by approximately 20%. This report presents a series of best practices on source protection and gives case studies of communities that have effectively linked land protection, water protection, and water treatment cost savings.
Businesses that invest in trees realize far reaching and ever growing returns: they increase property value, increase the amount shoppers will pay for products, decrease air conditioning needs, and increase employee productivity, satisfaction and retention. Trees decrease health care costs by luring people outside and encouraging increased physical activity and by providing cleaner, safer air.
City parks and open space improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities, and make our cities and neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work. Numerous studies have shown the social, environmental, economic, and health benefits parks bring to a city and its people. For example, they attract tourists, serve as community signature pieces, offer a marketing tool for cities to attract businesses and conventions and host festivals, concerts and athletics events, as is the case in Minnesota’s Chain of Lakes park, which is the state’s second-biggest attraction.
Trails allow communities to increase commerce, support and create jobs, increase property values, reduce commuter costs and provide low-cost health benefits by encouraging exercise. Two examples are: After just one season following the opening of the Missouri River State Trail, 61 businesses along the trail found the trail positively impacted their businesses, 11 said it strongly influenced their decision on where to locate, and 17 increased their business size. A 1995 survey of metro-Denver real estate agents found 73% believed a home near a trail would be easier to sell.
Green infrastructure is a network of decentralized stormwater management practices such as preservation of undeveloped areas near a water source, green roofs, tree planting, rain gardens and permeable pavement. This paper gives an overview of the methods used to measure the benefits of green infrastructure on water, energy savings, improved air quality, climate change mitigation, urban heat island mitigation, improved community livability and improved habitat. Multiple case studies are provided.
This white paper outlines the critical need for city parks, particularly in inner-city neighborhoods. It address the social, environmental, economic, health and community-development benefits parks bring to a city and its residents.
Farms feed us and provide a host of other public benefits. However, every day, the amount of fertile farmland diminishes as development spreads. When farmers think that the farms around them will be sold for development, which would result in the enterprises that support farming leaving and the loss of their support network, this can set off a downward spiral in a farming community: farmers leave farming or stop reinvesting in their farms because they fear the consequences of being one of the last farmers in an area. Farmland preservation programs can provide assurance to farmers that there will always be a critical mass of farms in an area, bringing stability to the local farm community and economy. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Preserving farmland and promoting farmland best management practices have direct, positive effects on local economies through product sales, job creation, the use of support services and businesses, and the supply of lucrative secondary markets such as food processing. Conversion of farmland to residential lots puts a burden on local government budgets for the provision of services. Distinctive agricultural landscapes bring tourism dollars into communities and farmland preservation paired with sustainable management practices protects the provision of ecosystem services, without which governments would have to pay to artificially replace.