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Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Key Message

Protected open spaces add billions of dollars to the value of the region’s housing stock and millions of dollars in revenue to local governments in southeastern Pennsylvania.


Economy League of Greater Philadelphia et al. (2010). Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:r Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.


This study estimates the value of protected open space by measuring the effects of protected open space on residential-property values, the value associated with environmental services provided by the region’s protected open spaces, the value of recreational activity on protected open space and associated avoided health-care costs, and the jobs and revenue created by activity on and connected to protected open space.
The study analyzes about 230,000 home sales in the five counties of southeastern Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2009 to estimate the effect of protected open space on residential-property values and related fiscal impacts.


Homes as far as one mile away from protected open space capture a “measurable increase” in their value because of that proximity; the increments of value captured total $16.3 billion.
Also, by increasing the value of homes in a one-mile radius, protected open space also increases the amount of property taxes and transfer taxes that local governments and school districts get, equaling $240 million per year in increased revenues

An analysis of real-estate sales within a quarter of a mile of the Radnor Trail, proximity to the tr equates to an average property enhancement of $69,139. The trail is also often mentioned as an amenity in real-estate listings.

Southeastern Pennsylvania realizes nearly $61 million in annual cost savings from protected open spaces’ ability to naturally filter out pollutants and replenish water supply.
The total annual benefit generated by natural flood mitigation services is more than $37 million.
Trees on protected open space are estimated to provide $17 million in annual air pollution removal and carbon sequestration services.

Responses to the 2009 statewide outdoor recreation survey indicate that, on average, 41% of moderate or strenuous physical exercise is performed in a park or on a trail.
Nearly $577 million in benefits accrue annually to residents who participate in recreational activities on protected open space within southeastern Pennsylvania.
Each household in the region saves $392 per year by having open space available for recreation and exercise.
The health-related cost savings resulting from physical activity on protected open space amount to $1.3 billion per year including avoided workers’ compensation costs and avoided productivity losses.
$795 million of those health-related cost savings are medical cost savings.

Economic activity associated with protected open space in southeastern Pennsylvania results in more than 6,900 jobs and $299 million in annual earnings.
Total annual expenditures in the five-county region associated with protected open space equal $566 million. Specifically $174 million, or 31%, is attributable to spending associated with the management and maintenance of publicly protected open space; $206 million, or 36%, accounts for agricultural sales associated with preserved farmland; and $187 million, or 33%, is generated through tourist activity associated with protected open space.
Agricultural jobs associated with protected farmland make up 45% of employment related to protected open space in southeastern Pennsylvania, totaling 3,100 jobs.
Economic activity associated with protected open space generates $30 million per year in state and local tax revenue.
(Summary Report pp 1-11)

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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