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Annotated Bibliography for The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation


The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation

Annotated summary of literature concerning the economic and community benefits related to the protection of natural areas.

Communities that conserve land are making a wise investment.  Accumulating evidence indicates that land conservation and the creation of city parks produce significant economic benefits.  Natural areas generally refer to open space or undeveloped lands, like parklands, forestlands farmland and ranchland.  When land is protected, the adjacent land often increases in value.  Saving land from development is often the best way to reduce government spending and avoid increases in property taxes.  Natural areas also encourage public recreation that leads to health benefits and reduced medical costs.  Communities with lots of protected land are perceived as nicer places to live, attracting businesses and people; they also attract non-resident visitors who put new dollars into local economies.  Natural areas capture precipitation, reduces stormwater management costs and, by protecting underground water sources, open space can reduce the cost of drinking water up to tenfold.

The Land Trust Alliance would like to thank Jonathan Weiss of ManTech International Corp. for contributing his research in this field.


Active Living Research.  2010.  The Economic Benefits of Open Space, Recreation Facilities and Walkable Community Design.  This research synthesis reviews the sizable body of peer-reviewed and independent reports on the economic value of outdoor recreation facilities, open spaces and walkable community design.  It focuses on private benefits that accrue to nearby homeowners and to other users of open space.  It concludes that in addition to providing opportunities for physical activity, recreation areas and parks located in metropolitan areas provide economic benefits to residents, municipal governments and private real estate developers.

American Farmland Trust.  2010.  Cost of Community Services Studies Fact Sheet.  This short report surveyed Cost of Community Services studies conducted in at least 125 communities in the United States.  These studies, conducted over the last 20 years, show that working lands generate more public revenues than they demand in public services.  Their impact on community coffers is similar to that of other commercial and industrial land uses.

American Farmland Trust.  2002.  Cost of Community Services Studies: Making the Case for Conservation.  Saving land saves money.  More than 80 Cost of Community Services studies conducted nationwide by AFT and others show that privately owned farm, forest and ranch lands generate more in local revenues than they require in services.  American Farmland Trust developed the COCS methodology to measure the net fiscal contribution of different land uses, including working farm and ranch lands.

American Planning Association.  2011.  How Cities Use Parks for Economic Development.  Parks provide intrinsic environmental, aesthetic and recreation benefits to our cities.  They are also a source of positive economic benefits.  They enhance property values, increase municipal revenue, bring in homebuyers and workers and attract retirees.

Crompton, John L.  2005.  The Impact of Parks on Property Values: Empirical Evidence from the Past Two Decades in the United StatesManaging Leisure 10:203-218.  The debates surrounding the pioneering of large urban parks in England in the first half of the 19th century and, subsequently, in the spread of this movement to the US in the latter half of that century recognized the notion that parks have a positive impact on proximate property values.  The empirical basis for these early assertions was rudimentary and naïve.  This paper reviews contemporary research using the more advance analytical procedures now available to social scientists that have examined this issue.

Crompton, John L.  2004.  The Impact of Parks and Open Space on Property Values and the Property Tax BaseNational Recreation and Park Association.  The real estate market consistently demonstrates that many people are willing to pay a larger amount for a property located close to parks and open space areas than for a home that does not offer this amenity.  The higher value of these residences means that their owners pay higher property taxes.  In effect, this represents a capitalization of parkland into increased property values of proximate landowners.

Crompton, John L.  2001.  The Impact of Parks on Property Values: A Review of the Empirical EvidenceJournal of Leisure Research 33(1):1-31.  The real estate market consistently demonstrates that many people are willing to pay a larger amount for a property located close to a park than for a house that does not offer this amenity.  The higher value of these residences means that their owners pay higher property taxes.  In many instances, if the incremental amount of taxes paid by each property which is attributable to the presence of a nearby park is aggregated, it is sufficient to pay the annual debt charges required to retire the bonds used to acquire and develop the park.

Crompton, John L.  2001.  Parks and Economic DevelopmentAmerican Planning Association and the City Parks Forum.  This book explains how to measure and report the positive economic impact of parks and open space on the financial health of local businesses and government.  It summarizes the relevant literature on the subject and provides a comprehensive overview of the topic.  The book argues that investing in parks and other public amenities are proven economic development tools that can help communities attract businesses and wealthy residents.

Curran, Deborah.  2001.  Economic Benefits of Natural Green Space ProtectionThe POLIS Project on Ecological Governance and Smart Growth British Columbia.  This study reviews the literature documenting the effect of natural open space preservation on property values and briefly discusses the economic benefits such an approach has for land developers and municipalities.  Generally, research indicates that natural open space has a positive effect on real estate values.  Quantified benefits to communities include higher residential property values in areas proximate to and/or with views of natural open space.

Headwaters Economics.  2011.  Economic Impact of National Parks.  An interactive page that shows how protected public lands, such as national parks, can play an important economic role for local communities.  The web-based tool lists visits, non-local spending and the number of jobs created in gateway communities for each National Park Service unit.  Visitation, tourism and jobs related to nearby public lands annually contribute billions of dollars to regional economies while creating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs.

Headwaters Economics.  2009.  The Economic Benefits of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  This short paper summarizes the important economic role that LWCF funding plays for local communities.  The three-page paper includes a short bibliography.

Kroeger, Timm.  2008.  Open Space Property Value Premium AnalysisNational Council for Science and the Environment.  This helpful paper shows that undeveloped lands, often collectively referred to as open space, have the potential to provide a wide range of private and public benefits.  These benefits accrue from the direct use of open space for recreational activities or the aesthetic appreciation of scenic views and landscapes.  Open space also provides benefits in the form of ecosystem services, such as clean water and air, or habitat for plant and animal species valuable to humans.

McConnell, Virginia and Margaret Walls.  2005.  The Value of Open Space: Evidence from Studies of Nonmarket BenefitsResources for the Future.  Open space provides a range of benefits to citizens of a community beyond the benefits that accrue to private landowners.  Parks and natural areas can be used for recreation; wetlands and forests supply stormwater drainage and wildlife habitat; farms and forests provide aesthetic benefits to surrounding residents.  This study reviews more than 60 published articles that have attempted to estimate the value of different types of open space.

National Park Service.  1995.  Economic Impacts of Protecting Rivers, Trails, and Greenway Corridors.  Rivers, trails and greenway corridors (linear open spaces connecting recreational, cultural and natural areas) are traditionally recognized for their environmental protection, recreation values and aesthetic appearance.  These corridors also have the potential to create jobs, enhance property values, expand local businesses, attract new or relocating businesses, increase local tax revenues, decrease local government expenditures and promote a local community.

Shultz, Steven D. and David A. King.  2001.  The Use of Census Data for Hedonic Price Estimates of Open-Space Amenities and Land UseJournal of Real Estate Finance & Economics 22(2-3):239-252. The results of this study provide empirical evidence that proximity to large protected natural areas, golf courses and wildlife habitats, as well as the percentage of vacant and commercial land use, positively influences housing values.  The authors used hedonic price models to determine marginal implicit prices of open space amenities and nonresidential land use using housing data from the census.  They compared alternative model specifications to evaluate the effects of aggregating land use data by alternative levels of census geography, as well as the use of different sample sizes of census blocks.

Thorsnes, Paul.  2002.  The Value of a Suburban Forest Preserve: Estimates from Sales of Vacant Residential Building LotsLand Economics 78(3):426-441.  This paper reports estimates of the market value of proximity to forest preserves as capitalized into the sale prices of vacant building lots in residential subdivisions that on one side border a preserve.  The results indicate that building lots that border the preserve sell at a premium of about $5,800 to $8,400 (19-35 percent of lot price).  These proximity premiums appear to be highly localized.

The Trust for Public Land.  2010.  Return on the Investment from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The Trust for Public Land conducted an analysis of the return on the investment of LWCF dollars for federal land acquisition by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and National Park Service for a sample of 16 federal units that received LWCF funding between 1998 and 2009.  TPL analyzed the past (1998 to 2009) and likely future (over the next 10 years) economic returns generated from LWCF spending on the sample federal units and found that every $1 invested returns $4 in economic value over this time period from natural resource goods and services alone.  In addition to providing natural goods and services, these federal lands are key to local recreation and tourism industries.

The Trust for Public Land.  2009.  Conservation: An Investment that Pays.  This report helps agency personnel and community conservationists make the case for conservation as a long-term economic investment.  Too often, the argument that creating parks and conserving land is too expensive, especially in hard economic times, seems to drown out other voices.  The research and many examples cited in the report will help you to promote conservation for its many benefits, including the boost parks and open space can give to a community's bottom line.

The Trust for Public Land.  2009.  Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System.  In 2003, TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence gathered two dozen park experts and economists in Philadelphia for a colloquium to analyze how park systems economically benefit cities.  Based on this conversation and subsequent consultation with other leading economists and academics, the center identified seven attributes of city park systems that provide economic value and can be measured.  While not every aspect of a park system can be quantified, this report examines seven major factors:  property value; tourism; direct use; health; community cohesion; clean water; clean air.

The Trust for Public Land.  2007.  The Economic Benefits of Land ConservationIncludes original research and analysis from eight leading experts on the economic benefits of parks and conservation.  Topics include the economic benefits of preserving watersheds, urban forests and farmland; the impact of parks on property taxes; and how parks and conservation help communities attract businesses and residents.

The Trust for Public Land.  1999.  The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space: How Land Conservation Helps Communities Grow Smart and Protect the Bottom Line. Presents data and examples that can help leaders and concerned citizens make the economic case for parks and open space conservation.  The report also has an extensive bibliography.



American Farmland Trust.  2005.  Community Benefits and Costs of Purchase of Agricultural Conservation EasementsUSDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.  The American Farmland Trust estimated the benefits that a farm could provide a local community in the future when its development rights are purchased.  It analyzed the financial impacts to communities and individuals that result from protected farmland.  The authors found that the largest benefit  was from the farm’s economic contribution to the local community through employment, product sales and purchases of local goods and services.


Headwaters Economics.  2011. The Value of Protected Lands.  This webpage contains regional report, case studies, tools, a library of additional research and related news articles that Headwaters Economics has completed concerning the value of western protected public lands.

State and Local


Pima County.  2009.  The Economic Benefits of Conservation.  Part of a larger report.  This section discusses findings by state agencies on the economic benefits associated with nature-based outdoor recreation; information on impacts to the tax base, tax payers and flood insurance premiums; and overall how important conservation is for economic development.


Defenders of Wildlife.  2010.  An Economic Analysis of the Benefits of Habitat Conservation on California Rangelands.  This report presents the results of a study to investigate the private and public economic benefits associated with the conservation of wildlife habitat and other natural resources on rangelands in California’s Central Valley.

National Parks Conservation Association.  2003.  National Treasures and Economic Engines: The Economic Impact of Visitor Spending in California’s National Parks.  California boasts 23 national park sites that protect millions of acres of significant cultural, historical and natural landscapes — and welcomes millions of visitors annually.  This report examines the economic impact of visitor spending in 10 national park sites in California.  Visitors to these parks in  2001 spent a total of $643 million in the surrounding communities, supporting nearly 16,900 non-National Park Service jobs and generating more than $266 million worth of wages, salaries and payroll benefits.


Breffle, William S., Edward R. Morey and Tymon S. Lodder.  1997.  Using Contingent Valuation to Estimate a Neighborhood's Willingness to Pay to Preserve Undeveloped Urban Land.  This study uses contingent valuation to estimate a neighborhood’s willingness to pay (WTP) to preserve a 5.5-acre parcel of land in Boulder, Colorado, that provides views, open space and wildlife habitat.  The authors surveyed households to determine bounds on their WTP for preservation.  They developed an interval model to estimate sample WTP as a function of distance, income and other characteristics.

Riddel, Mary.  2001.  A Dynamic Approach to Estimating Hedonic Prices for Environmental Goods: An Application to Open Space Purchase.  This paper suggests an alternative to the cross-sectional model for estimating hedonic prices using an error correction approach that allows for endogenous environmental quality.  The model is applied to data concerning an open space purchase program in Boulder, Colorado, and shows that the economic impact of an open space purchase takes several years to be fully realized.

The Trust for Public Land.  2010.  The Economic Benefits of Denver's Park and Recreation System.  This study of the park system of Denver shows that the city’s parks generate considerable economic value—both to the local government and to Denver residents.  According to the detailed analysis by the Center for City Park Excellence, Denver’s parks deliver annual revenue of $7.1 million for the city, municipal savings of $3.6 million, resident savings of $517 million and a collective increase of resident wealth of $48.7 million.  These different economic values stem from seven different measurable factors provided by the parks—clean air, clean water, tourism, direct use, health, property value and community cohesion.

The Trust for Public Land.  2010.  A Return on Investment: The Economic Value of Colorado's Conservation Easements.  Researchers in Colorado found that a $595 million investment in conservation easements returned $3.51 billion in public benefits.  Some of the measurable benefits that result from permanently protected privately owned land include:  water supply protection; scenic views; flood control; fish and wildlife habitat; recreation (hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, etc.); aesthetics; carbon sequestration; dilution of waste water; erosion control; agricultural crop production.


The Trust for Public Land.  2009.  How Much Value Does the City of Wilmington Receive from its Park and Recreation System? This research study by TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence explores the economic value of the parks and park programs of the city of Wilmington, Delaware.  Enumerating the economic value of the city's park system for seven different factors—clean air, clean water, tourism, direct use, health, property value and community cohesion—the Center found that in 2008 the parks provided Wilmington's residents with savings of $47.2 million and a collective increase of wealth of $11 million.  In addition, parks and recreation provided the city's government with revenues of $1.36 million and municipal savings of $448,000.


Kiker, Clyde F. and Alan W. Hodges.  2002.  Economic Benefits of Natural Land Conservation: Case Study of Northeast FloridaUniversity of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences.  This case study of economic benefits focuses on the northeast counties of Duval, Clay, St. Johns and Putnam.  It documents the role and importance of the region’s landscape resources to its economy.  Rural landscapes contribute a combined value of $1.9 billion annually to the regional economy from both production activities and amenity values.

The Nature Conservancy.  2009.  Economic Benefits of Land Conservation: A Case for Florida Forever.  Florida Forever and the complementary land conservation programs of local, federal and nonprofit partners represent a market-based nonregulatory approach to protecting special places critical to the environment and quality of life in Florida.  The economic benefits of land conservation are classified in terms of tourism and outdoor recreation, agriculture, freshwater resources, coastal counties and resources, defense and conservation, climate change mitigation and helping preserve the state’s green infrastructure.  This report compiles a great deal of research on the economy and its direct link to conservation in Florida to serve as an introduction to the economics of land conservation in Florida.


Madsen, Travis, Elizabeth Ridlington and Jill Johnson.  2006.  Protecting Our Natural Heritage: The Value of Land Conservation in GeorgiaEnvironment Georgia Research & Policy Center.  Georgia’s natural heritage is the foundation of a strong economy, providing value for the state and its people in many ways.  For example, land conservation attracts tourist dollars, promotes a clean and plentiful supply of water, prevents flood damage, increases the value of nearby properties, reduces service costs compared to residential development, provides agricultural products, reduces air pollution, provides areas to hunt and fish, supports economic redevelopment and preserves history.


Goodman Williams Group and URS Corporation.  2005.  Millennium Park Economic Impact StudyCity of Chicago.  This study estimates that over 10 years the total value of residential development attributable to the park is roughly $1.4 billion.


Lindsey, Greg, Joyce Man, Seth Payton and Kelly Dickson.  2004.  Property Values, Recreation Values, and Urban GreenwaysJournal of Park and Recreation Administration 22(3):69-90.  This paper presents a taxonomy of the values of greenways and illustrates how two particular types of values can be measured using complementary techniques.  Impacts of greenways on property values in Indianapolis, Indiana, are measured with GIS and hedonic price modeling using residential real estate sales data from 1999.  Recreation values are measured for a greenway trail in Indianapolis with the travel cost method using data from a 2000 survey of trail users and counts of trail traffic taken in 1996.

Payton, Seth, Greg Lindsey, Jeff Wilson, John R. Ottensmann and Joyce Man.  2008.  Valuing the Benefits of the Urban Forest: A Spatial Hedonic ApproachJournal of Environmental Planning and Management 51(6): 717-736.  This paper measures the benefits of the urban forest by examining its effect on housing prices.  The authors estimate spatial hedonic housing price models for the Indianapolis/Marion County area.  The models indicate that greener vegetation around a property has a positive significant effect on housing price, holding everything else constant.


American Farmland Trust.  2002.  Cost of Community Services Study: Cecil County, Maryland.  The American Farmland Trust conducted a Cost of Community Services (COCS) study to gain a better understanding of the financial impact of existing land uses in Cecil County.  The Cecil County COCS findings demonstrate that while residential development contributes the largest amount of revenue, its net fiscal impact is actually negative.  Commercial and industrial development offsets most of this shortfall, while farm and open land contributes to the surplus.

Bucholtz, Shawn, Jacqueline Geoghegan and Lori Lynch.  2003.  Capitalization of Open Spaces into Housing Values and the Residential Property Tax Revenue Impacts of Agricultural Easement ProgramsAgricultural and Resource Economics Review 32(1)33-45.  Using a unique spatial database, the authors develop a hedonic model to estimate the value to nearby residents of open space purchased through agricultural preservation programs in three Maryland counties.  The authors calculate the potential changes in housing values for a given change in neighborhood open space following an agricultural easement purchase.  The study finds that positive benefits may accrue directly to the owners of parcels neighboring the preserved parcels, which could result in increased tax revenue.

Geoghegan, Jacqueline.  2002.  The Value of Open Spaces in Residential Land UseLand Use Policy 19(1):91-98.  This paper develops a theoretical model of how different types of open space are valued by residential landowners living near these open spaces and then, using a hedonic pricing model, tests hypotheses concerning the extent to which these different types of open space are capitalized into housing prices.  The empirical results from Howard County, a rapidly developing county in Maryland, show that permanent open space increases nearby residential land values more than three times as much as an equivalent amount of developable open space.

Irwin, Elena G.  2002.  The Effects of Open Space on Residential Property ValuesLand Economics 78(4):465-480.  This paper tests the marginal values of different open space attributes using a hedonic pricing model with residential sales data from central Maryland.  The author addresses identification problems that arise due to endogenous land use spillovers and unobserved spatial correlation by using an instrumental variables estimation with a randomly drawn subset of the data that omits nearest neighbors.  The results show a premium associated with permanently protected open space relative to developable agricultural and forest lands and supports the hypothesis that open space is most valued for providing an absence of development, rather than for providing a particular bundle of open space amenities.


American Farmland Trust.  1992.  Does Farmland Protection Pay? The Cost of Community Services in Three Massachusetts Towns.


Anderson, Soren T. and Sarah E. West.  2006.  Open Space, Residential Property Values and Spatial ContextRegional Science and Urban Economics 36:773-789.  This study uses home transaction data from the Minneapolis–St. Paul metropolitan area to estimate the effects of proximity to open space on sales price.  The study finds that the value of proximity to open space is higher in neighborhoods that are dense, near the central business district, high-income, high-crime or home to many children.  The study finds that the amenity value of proximity to natural areas rises with amenity size, indicating that larger natural areas increase benefits.

Embrace Open Space.  2007.  The Economic Impact of Proximity to Open Space on Single-Family Home Values in Washington County, Minnesota.  The analysis in this study included 67,768 residential single-family properties in Washington County.  Almost 19,000 of those properties were sold between January 2002 and March 2006.  After taking into account the impact of other key factors, residential single-family properties near the 1,536 identified parcels of open space in Washington County are worth an average of $16,750 more than those that are not.

New Hampshire

Auger, Philip A.  1995.  Does Open Space Pay? University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.  This study used the Cost of Community Services process to compare residential, commercial, industrial, and open space land use categories in two New Hampshire communities:  Fremont and Deerfield.  Residential land uses often cost communities more than they generate in revenues.  Agricultural and open space land paid significantly more in taxes than it required in services from local governments.

Resource Systems Group.  1999.  The Economic Impact of Open Space in New Hampshire.  Prepared for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, this report provides an independent analysis of the economic impacts of open space on the economy of the state of New Hampshire.

The Trust for Public Land.  2005.  Managing Growth: The Impact of Conservation and Development on Property Taxes in New Hampshire. The study investigates whether there is an association between development and high or low property taxes.  The report finds that in the long-term, towns that have the most permanently protected land have generally lower tax bills.

New Mexico

Headwaters Economics.  2010.  The Economic Benefits of Southern New Mexico's Natural Assets.  Conserving one of southern New Mexico’s greatest assets, the region’s enchanting natural areas, is a foundation for economic vibrancy and quality of life.  Tourism alone is the state’s second largest industry, bringing more than $5.7 billion to New Mexico annually.  A sustained effort to protect wildlife, increase outdoor recreation and restore watersheds and forests provides direct benefits, including new jobs in local communities.

New York

Ernst and Young.  2003.  Analysis of Secondary Economic Impacts, New York City Parks Capital Expenditures.  New Yorkers for Parks.  When bolstered by “effective administration, community participation and maintenance,” capital investments in parks pay significant returns via a range of benefits.  The study analyzed 30 parks in New York City.  Residential premiums for proximity to open space ranged from 8 to 30 percent; leasing rates for commercial space near parks ranged in the area of 300 percent of the rates in surrounding submarkets.

Hattery, Michael R.  1998.  Cost of Community Services Study: Town of Warwick, Orange County, New York.  The results of this study indicate that different land uses vary in their relationship to local government revenues and expenditures.  Residential property consistently demands more in town and school service expenditures than it contributes in tax revenues.  Industrial/commercial, agricultural and open space and forest property uses appear to require less in service expenditures from towns and schools combined than they contribute in revenues.

Office of the State Comptroller.  2010.  Economic Benefits of Open Space Preservation.  The New York Office of the State Comptroller conducted a review of studies of the costs and benefits of open space protection.  The findings include the following:  open space supports industries that generate billions of dollars in economic activity annually; open space protection can be financially beneficial to local governments by reducing costs for public infrastructure and programs, lessening the need for property tax increases; open space preservation can support regional economic growth; and well-planned open space protection measures need not conflict with meeting other vital needs, such as economic development, municipal fiscal health and affordable housing.

The Trust for Public Land.  2010.  The Economic Benefits and Fiscal Impact of Parks and Open Space in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York.  This economic analysis concludes that Long Island parks and open space provide a $2.74 billion annual economic benefit to local governments and taxpayers.  Additionally, the conservation of Long Island parks and open spaces is eight times less costly than new residential development.  The report finds that Long Islanders are willing to pay $1.48 billion annually to recreate in public parks.

North Carolina

Land for Tomorrow.  2009.  Economic Benefits of Land Conservation: North Carolina 2009.  North Carolina’s wide range of natural resources and scenic beauty enhance North Carolinian’s quality of life and provide multiple economic benefits.  This brief report summarizes the economic benefits of land conservation into the categories of tourism, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation, military readiness, agriculture and forestry, retirees, storm damage protection and health.

The Trust for Public Land.  2011.  North Carolina’s Return on the Investment in Land Conservation.  The Trust for Public Land conducted an analysis of the return on North Carolina's investment in land conservation through the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Natural Heritage Trust Fund and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (the “Conservation Trust Funds”).  The Trust for Public Land analyzed the past and likely future economic returns generated from Conservation Trust Funds land acquisition spending and found that every $1 invested returns $4 in economic value over this time period from natural resource goods and services alone.

University of North Carolina.  The Economic Benefits of Open Space in Wake County, North Carolina.  Fact sheet describing the numerous benefits provided by open space to Wake County.  These benefits include water purification and protection of drinking water supplies, provision of wildlife habitat and human health and recreation benefits.


Bolitzer, B. and N. R. Netusil.  2000.  The Impact of Open Spaces on Property Values in Portland, Oregon.  Open spaces such as public parks, natural areas and golf courses may have an influence on the sale price of homes in close proximity to those resources.  The net effect of open space proximity is theoretically uncertain because the positive externalities associated with proximity, such as a view or nearby recreation facility, might be outweighed by negative externalities, for example, traffic congestion and noise.  The impact of open space proximity and type is examined empirically using a data set that includes the sales price for homes in Portland, Oregon, GIS-derived data on each home’s proximity to an open space, and neighborhood and home characteristics.

Kim, Yeon-Su and Rebecca L. Johnson.  2002.  The Impact of Forests and Forest Management on Neighboring Property ValuesSociety & Natural Resources: An International Journal 15(10):887-901.  This study estimates the contribution of forests and forest management to property values around McDonald-Dunn Research Forest near Corvallis, Oregon.  The authors investigated the economic effects of proximity to the forest, different forest conditions and management schemes to neighboring property values using GIS.  Proximity to the forest has a positive contribution to property values; this relationship is even stronger for houses closer to the forest.

Lutzenhiser, Margot and Noelwah R. Netusil.  2001.  The Effect of Open Spaces on a Home's Sale PriceContemporary Economic Policy 19(3):291-298.  The authors explore the relationship between a home’s sale price and its proximity to different open space types using a data set comprised of single-family home sales in the city of Portland, within Multnomah County, between 1990 and 1992.  Homes located within 1,500 feet of a natural area park, where more than 50 percent of the park is preserved in native and/or natural vegetation, are found to experience, on average, the largest increase in sale price.  The open space size that maximizes a home's sale price is calculated for each open space type.

Song, Yan and Gerrit-Jan Knaap.  2004.  Measuring the Effects of Mixed Land Uses on Housing ValuesRegional Science and Urban Economics 34(6):663-680.  The authors first developed several quantitative measures of mixed land uses by using GIS data and computed these measures for various neighborhoods in Washington County, Oregon.  They then incorporated those measures in a hedonic price analysis.  Housing prices increased with their proximity to—or with increasing amounts of—public parks or neighborhood commercial land uses.


Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Econsult Corporation and Keystone Conservation Trust.  2010.  The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania.  The GreenSpace Alliance and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission teamed up to produce this report.  The findings are the first to quantify the economic value of protected open space in the five-county area.  More than just pretty places, preserved open spaces contribute to local economies and property values, they help save on everything from health care to recreation and they perform valuable ecosystem services that naturally improve the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The Trust for Public Land and Philadelphia Parks Alliance.  2008.  How Much Value Does the City of Philadelphia Receive from its Park and Recreation System? In this report for the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, the Center for City Park Excellence documents the economic value of the parks and park programs of Philadelphia—from the Fairmount Park system to the activities and facilities of the Philadelphia Recreation Department to the broad touristic reach of Independence National Historical Park.  Parks provide Philadelphians with so many joys and benefits that many residents would not want to live in the city without them, and there is growing realization that the city's parks are providing hundreds of millions of dollars of value.  This report includes enumerations on the economic value of the city's park system for seven different factors—clean air, clean water, tourism, direct use, health, property value and community cohesion.

South Carolina

Espey, Molly and Kwame Owusu-Edusei.  2001.  Neighborhood Parks and Residential Property Values in Greenville, South CarolinaJournal of Agriculture and Applied Economics 33(3):487-492.  Using a unique data set of single-family homes sold between 1990 and 1999 in Greenville, South Carolina, the authors estimate the effect on housing prices of proximity to different types of parks.  While they find the value of park proximity to vary with respect to park size and amenities, the estimates from this study are larger than previous studies.  They found the greatest impact on housing values with proximity to small neighborhood parks, with the positive impact of proximity to both small and medium-sized parks extending to homes as far as 1,500 feet from the park.


Cho, Seong-Hoon, Christopher D. Clark, William M. Park and Seung Gyu Kim.  2009.  Spatial and Temporal Variation in the Housing Market Values of Lot Size and Open SpaceLand Economics 85(1):51-73.  This research analyzes spatial and temporal variation in the effects of lot size and proximity to open space on residential home values in a single Tennessee county.  The findings show that the value of proximity to greenways, parks and water bodies increased over time, while the value of lot size and proximity to golf courses fell.  Proximity to open space is found to be a substitute for lot size, although the degree of substitutability has weakened over time.


Insight Research Corporation.  2006.  Analysis of Economic, Employment and Tax Revenue Impacts.  This study considered the impact of covering 4.9 acres of freeway in the central business district of Dallas with a deck converted to open space.  The projected economic benefits over 20 years include $312 million in economic activity, 180 jobs and $12.6 million in tax revenues on property and sales. To order a report, go to

Miller, Andrew Ross.  2001.  Valuing Open Space: Land Economics and Neighborhood Parks.  Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture.  This graduate thesis paper argues that statistical analysis can reliably measure individual preferences for different aspects of the built environment, including location preference near open space.  The paper quantifies the market value of specific attributes of housing quality, location and neighborhood at sites in suburban Dallas, Texas.  It found that homes facing parks were worth 22 percent more than homes located a half mile or further from the park space.

Nicholls, Sarah and John L. Compton.  2005.  The Impact of Greenways on Property Values: Evidence from Austin, TexasJournal of Leisure Research.  Using the hedonic pricing method, this study demonstrates that greenways may have significant positive impacts on proximate properties’ sales prices.  Adjacency to a greenbelt produced significant property value premiums in two of three neighborhoods.  Physical access to a greenbelt had a significant positive impact in one case, but was insignificant in two others.

Nicholls, Sarah and John L. Compton.  2005.  Impacts of Regional Parks on Property Values in Texas.  In this study, the authors apply the hedonic pricing method to four large parks in Bastrop County, near Austin, Texas.  Analysis of the four parks—both individually and as a group—revealed that these large, public open spaces had no statistically significant impact on property prices in the rural county in which they are located.  Potential explanations for this lack of significance include the relatively large amount of undeveloped open space (whether publicly or privately owned) in the area, as well as the rather large lot size compared to the typical American city.

The Perryman Group.  2006.  Sunshine, Soccer, and Success: An Assessment of the Impact of Municipal Parks and Recreation Facilities and Programs on Business Activity in Texas.  This study found that even beyond their important role in the daily life of cities large and small, municipal parks are significant generators of economic activity.  Local parks across the state led to the creation of 45,623 jobs through their maintenance and operations activity, capital investment and direct tourism.  On a direct-only basis, parks programs partially pay for themselves.


Lilieholm, Robert J. and Charles J. Faushold.  1999.  The Economic Benefits of Open Space in UtahUtah State University Extension.  This paper reviews the different types of economic benefits associated with the protection of open space.


V Phillips, Spencer R.  2004.  Windfalls for Wilderness: Land Protection and Land Value in the Green MountainsVirginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Ph.D. dissertation.  Land is a composite good, the price of which varies with its characteristics, including proximity to amenities.  Analysis of data from sales of land near Green Mountain National Forest wilderness areas in a hedonic price model reveals a positive relationship between proximity to protected wilderness and market values for residential properties.


Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission.  2010.  Conservation Easements: Fiscal Impacts to Localities in the Middle Peninsula. The key findings of this study include that the tax revenue impact of conservation easements is less than about 0.5 percent of any given Middle Peninsula locality’s annual budget, that easements lower land value and help the composite index and that schools receive more state aid funding because of easements.


The Trust for Public Land.  2011.  The Economic Benefits of Seattle's Park and Recreation System.  This study of the park system of Seattle shows that the city's parks generate considerable economic value—both to the local government and to Seattle residents.  According to the detailed analysis by the Center for City Park Excellence, Seattle's parks deliver annual municipal revenue of $19.2 million, municipal savings of $12.4 million, resident savings of $511.6 million and a collective increase of resident wealth of $110.8 million.  These different economic values stem from seven measurable factors provided by the parks—clean air, clean water, tourism, direct use, health, property value and community cohesion.


Edwards, Mary, Douglas Jackson-Smith, Steve Ventura and Jill Bukovac.  1999.  The Cost of Community Services for Three Dane County Towns: Dunn, Perry and Westport.  The report provides a Cost of Community Services analysis of three communities in Dane County and quantifies the net fiscal impact of different types of land uses in the communities.

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