A report recently released by the Trust for Public Land makes the case that land conservation–in the form of conservation easements, cluster zoning, or public parks–creates substantial economic benefits both to private landowners and the public at large. The report provides useful summaries of numerous studies which seek to evaluate and quantify the economic benefits of parks and conserved land. For example, the report describes Bryant Park in Manhattan, whose revitalization, a study claims, may be responsible for a near doubling of commercial rents in nearby office space as compared to surrounding neighborhoods. Similarly, Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park overlooking Puget Sound in downtown Seattle is credited with sparking new business development in adjacent areas, and notably increasing nearby residential values.
The report links land conservation with numerous environmental benefits, which may be described in economic terms by calculating the value of “ecosystem services” they provide. These include reduction in the need for stormwater treatment, promotion of water quality, reducing cooling costs by mitigating the urban “heat island” effect, and preventing costs associated with global warming, due to carbon sequestration in preserved lands. All of these spillover effects benefit the public at large, the report argues, while increased real estate values inure to the public benefit through increased local tax revenues. To see examples of SPR work on public open space, see our Project Updates pages.
- Read the full report: Conservation, an Investment that Pays (TPL.org)