Economic & Health Benefits
Communities often believe that they cannot afford to "grow smart" by conserving open space. But accumulating evidence indicates that open space conservation and the creation of city parks are investments that produce significant economic benefits. The Trust for Public Land conducts studies and produces reports that help advocates make the case for conservation. For instance, our economic analysis in Long Island revealed that the state's parks and open space provide a $2.74 billion annual economic benefit to local governments and taxpayers, and that conservation of Long Island's parks and open space is eight times less costly than new residential development.
In research findings summarized in Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System, our Center for City Park Excellence identified seven ways in which cities derive economic benefit from their parks. These measures inform a unique methodology with which the center has evaluated the economic value of park systems across the country.
Parks and open space outside of cities produce economic benefits as well. Parks attract non-resident visitors who put new dollars into local economies. Proximity to parks and open space enhances the value of residential properties and produces increased tax revenues for communities. Open space captures precipitation, reduces stormwater management costs, and by protecting underground water sources, open space can reduce the cost of drinking water up to ten-fold. Trees and shrubs reduce air pollution control costs. And of course, there is the value to human communities of protecting the habitats of wild creatures who live near us.
Nearly half of Americans get less than the recommended minimum amount of physical activity—more than one-third engage in no leisure-time physical activity at all. In the movement to improve the health and wellness of adults and children across the country, parks have a critical role to play.
Whether hosting a Little League team or a seniors’ tai chi class, parks promote physical and mental health for people of all ages. The Trust for Public Land’s research into best practices in planning, design, and programming helps communities maximize the health benefits of their park systems. Our report, From Fitness Zones to the Medical Mile, details more than 75 innovative features and programs-including 14 case studies-that maximize a park's ability to promote physical activity and improve mental health.