The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania

By Econsult Corporation, Keystone Conservation Trust, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA (November 16, 2010)- Southeastern Pennsylvania’s nearly 200,000 acres of protected open space generate clear and substantial economic benefits. Homeowners, businesses, and governments in the five-county region benefit economically from protected open space in numerous ways.

This study demonstrates that protected open space:
* increases homeowner property values by an average of $10,000 per household;
* saves local governments and utilities more than $132 million a year in costs associated with environmental services such as drinking water filtration and flood control;
* helps residents and businesses avoid nearly $800 million in direct and indirect medical costs and saves businesses an additional $500 million in workers’ compensation costs and costs related to lost productivity;
* generates more than $566 million in annual spending, $271 million in annual salaries, and $30 million in state and local tax revenue; and
* supports nearly 7,000 jobs. These estimates should provide elected leaders, policy makers, and the general public a new perspective on the value of open space and help them make informed decisions about future development.
Protected open spaces – public parks, preserved farmland, and private conserved lands – provide substantial economic, environmental, and public health benefits to surrounding communities. These benefits, however, are generally not well understood and are often undervalued in policy debates and investment decisions. In the interest of fostering a better understanding of these benefits, this study estimates the economic value generated by protected open space in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Approximately 14 percent of the land area in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties is protected open space. This area includes parks and trails such as Ridley Creek State Park and the Schuylkill River Trail, working farms across southeastern Pennsylvania, and private land trust owned or eased lands.
Related Resources:
The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania
Study Author Kevin Gillen speaks at 2011 ACT Green Infrastructure Summit