This is the fourth in a series of four articles exploring the benefits of urban green spaces.
The Economic Value of Urban Green Spaces
In the previous three articles we have focused on the social, psychological, and environmental benefits of urban green spaces. Lately, attention has increasingly turned to the economic benefits of parks and urban green spaces. The economic aspects of urban green spaces include the encouragement of environment friendly behavior, places for job creation, and increased desirability to residents, visitors, and investors.1
Urban green spaces can be one of the factors that attract significant investments that assist in rapid economic growth. For every $1 invested in land conservation returns between $4 and $11 in natural goods and services.2 Whether through increased property taxes, attraction of business, tourism, ecosystem services, or reduced cost of municipal services, green spaces pay for their development many times over.
Green space increases property values. People pay higher prices for houses near parks. Parks increase commercial rents and demand for space. Higher property taxes can be used to pay to build and maintain the park. A potential increase in property tax revenue alone can recover the initial cost of acquisition within a few years.
Greater property values also mean that more tax dollars can be spent on other initiatives and services. Thus, green spaces play a role in job creation. This comes about through improvements to a region’s image, helping to attract and hold high value industry, entrepreneurs, and workers. Additionally, green spaces make happier employees. Better working environments can significantly affect productivity. Studies suggest that employees work better and more productively with lower stress levels and absenteeism, in greener more attractive environments.
Green spaces are also central to managing and preserving valuable tourism resources. Outdoor recreation is a subset of the tourism industry. Federal, state, and local parks make a community an attractive place to visit. Through park fees and regional spending, park tourism can boost local economies and support jobs.
Open space in a community can benefit everyone regardless of level of physical activity, including residents that never use the open space and non-landowners near or far from an open space. We know that urban green spaces are considered as important contributor and can be a significant part of a sustainable development. We now know that nearby nature directly contributes to quality human habitat and is profoundly important for the health of mind and body. The quality of cities depends on how the urban green spaces are designed, managed and protected. Overall, cities that build and maintain well-connected, attractive green spaces are likely to have healthier, wealthier, happier, and more productive citizens.
1 The Economic Value of Green Infrastructure, Dr. Will Williams, NWDA, 2008
2 The Economic Benefits of Greenspace, James Kastelic, The Trust for Public Land, September 11 2014
3 Economic Benefits of Urban Green Spaces, Luke Fontes, Kevin O’Halloran, William Reich, December 3 2014
4 The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation, Constance T.F. de Brun, The Trust for Public Land, July 2 2019