The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Protected open space – public parks, preserved farmland, and private conserved lands – represents 14 percent of the land area in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. These 300 square miles include parks and trails such as Valley Forge National Park, Ridley Creek State Park, and the Schuylkill River Trail, as well as working farms across southeastern Pennsylvania.

In conjunction with the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Econsult Corporation estimated the economic, environmental, recreation, health, and property value benefits of protected open space in the Philadelphia five-county region runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and included:

    • Property value impacts – added value to housing stock from proximity to open space, and annual property and real estate transfer tax revenues collected from that added value
    • Environmental impacts – annual benefits from water supply provision, waste assimilation, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, air pollution removal, and carbon sequestration, and carbon stored in existing trees on open space
    • Recreational and health impacts – annual recreational benefits for residents who participate in recreational activities on open space, as well as medical costs and lost productivity costs avoided annually as a result
    • Economic activity impacts – annual expenditures supporting jobs and annual salaries and generating annual state and local taxes

Commissioned by GreenSpace Alliance and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, this report should enlighten discussions among policymakers and environmental advocates by helping properly identify and value the benefits of protected open space in policy debates and investment decisions.


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