Conservation Benefits

Air & Water Quality

Our air and water are limited resources. The tree canopy and vegetation serve as critical filters for our air. Wetlands that border our rivers, lakes and streams filter pollution before it reaches our drinking water. If we do not remove the pollutants that our society puts into the air and water, we consume them ourselves. Already, nearly half of the river miles in America are too polluted to drink from and over 50 percent of our drinking water comes from rivers. Evapotranspiration from trees and vegetation have a net cooling effect, helping to reduce air conditioning demands in the summer.

Economic Benefits

Numerous studies have shown that parks and open space increase the value of neighboring property. The availability of park and recreational facilities is an important quality-of-life factor for an increasing number of people. "The real estate market consistently demonstrates that many people are willing to pay a larger amount for a property located close to parks and open space areas than for a home that does not offer this amenity," writes John L. Crompton, a professor at Texas A&M University who has published extensive research on parks and recreation. In a 2001 survey conducted for the National Association of Realtors by Public Opinion Strategies, 50 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay 10 percent more for a house located near a park or other protected open space. Outdoor recreation activities including hunting, fishing, and bird watching, are an important component of the local tourism industry and relies on access to natural, undeveloped property. Land preservation also conserves public tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development and reducing stormwater demands.

Health & Wellness

Evidence shows that when people have access to parks, they exercise more. In a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity led to a 25.6 percent increase in the percentage of people exercising on three or more days per week. Beyond the benefits of exercise, a growing body of research shows that contact with the natural world improves physical and psychological health. One study reviewed the recoveries of surgical patients in a Pennsylvania hospital. The rooms of some patients overlooked a stand of trees, while others faced a brown brick wall. A review of 10 years of medical records showed that patients with tree views had shorter hospitalizations, less need for painkillers, and fewer negative comments in the nurses' notes, compared with patients with brick-wall views. It has also been found that residents of neighborhoods with greenery in common spaces are more likely to enjoy stronger social ties than those who live surrounded by barren concrete.