Return on Environment: The Economic Impact of Protected Open Space in Mercer County, New Jersey

Mercer County New Jersey’s emphasis on land preservation began over 30 years ago, resulting in a multitude of preserved parks and open spaces that reflect the diversity of Mercer County’s natural features. Protected open space provides substantial economic, environmental, and health benefits to surrounding communities, but these benefits are often overlooked or undervalued in policy debates and investment decisions. A better understanding of these benefits can demonstrate how protected open space contributes to economic development and fiscal stability and reverses the common misconception that conserved undeveloped land is non-productive and non-revenue producing.

Econsult Solutions quantified the economic impacts of open space and the benefits realized through environmental protection.

Using standard input-output modeling techniques and multipliers, ESI translated open space and environmental protection investments into the commensurate impacts on the Mercer County and New Jersey economies. We estimated the ramifications of this composition of economic activity on annual and life-time benefits to tax revenues to the County and the State We also demonstrated the array a benefits through a series of case studies that profile county parks and public spaces and highlight the return on environment as quantified in economic terms.

The results of the analyses and the case studies were reported in a digital-friendly document, and an executive summary ready to distribute to county decision makers. Additionally, Econsult Solutions distilled the report into a presentation of findings for county planning officials to use in public meetings.

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