Assessing the Local Economic Impacts of Land Conservation

Land protection, both public and private, provides substantial ecological benefits by avoiding conversion of natural systems to intensive, developed uses. These benefits include carbon sequestration, watershed functioning, soil conservation, and the preservation of diverse habitat types (e.g., Daily 1997; Brauman et al. 2007; Kumar 2012; Watson et al. 2014). Land protection also solves a key market failure: private markets tend to underprovide socially beneficial land uses such as natural forests, agricultural lands, or managed timberlands. The reason for this failure is that many of the benefits of these lands go to the public in general, not individual landowners. When private values and market transactions determine land uses, less land will be devoted to socially beneficial uses than if citizens could collectively determine use on the basis of social values (e.g., Angelsen 2010; Tietenberg & Lewis 2016).

Economic Impacts of Land Conservation