Assessing the local economic impacts of land protection
Land protection, whether public or private, is often controversial at the local level because residents worry about lost economic activity. This peer-reviewed article estimates the impacts of public and private land protection based on local area employment and housing permits data from 5 periods spanning 1990-2015 for all major towns and cities in New England. Contrary to narratives that conservation depresses economic growth, land protection was associated with a modest increase in the number of people employed and in the labor force and did not affect new housing permits, population, or median income. Public and private protection led to different patterns of positive employment impacts at distances close to and far from cities, indicating the importance of investing in both types of land protection to increase local opportunities. The greatest magnitude of employment impacts were due to protection in more rural areas, where opportunities for both visitation and amenity-related economic growth may be greatest.