Vt. benefits economically from land conservation

MONTPELIER — A recent study by The Trust for Public Land in cooperation with fellow members of the Vermont Forest Partnership quantitatively demonstrates that Vermonters benefit from the state’s investment in land conservation, which generates measurable economic returns. Conserved lands provide valuable natural goods and services such as water quality protection, flood prevention, food production, wildlife habitat, and air pollution removal — all important to Vermont’s economy and jobs.
According to the report, every $1 invested in land conservation by Vermont returns $9 in natural goods and services. The full report is available here.
“The findings of our report show that conservation is key to maintaining our state’s character, while supporting jobs, boosting water quality, strengthening our forest products and farm sectors, enhancing economic development, and improving public health.” said Shelby Semmes, The Trust for Public Land’s Vermont and New Hampshire state director.
Investments in land conservation have demonstrated benefits across Vermont’s economic landscape. In addition to the newly quantified value in natural goods and services, land conservation supports thousands of jobs ranging from foresters to farmers to employees at small businesses that rely on outdoor recreation and tourism. For example, Vermont’s forest products industry supports 10,600 jobs and generates $1.48 billion in economic output. The outdoor recreation industry generates 51,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in consumer spending in the state each year.
Jennifer Plowden, a senior conservation economist at The Trust for Public Land reports that, “our economists have studied the return on investment in land conservation in over a dozen states across the country and while each program is different, our findings show that Vermont’s land conservation programs are a great investment.”
Joe Roman is technical reviewer of the report and a Gund Fellow and Research Associate Professor at Gund Institute for Environment and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. He sees many benefits to land conservation.
“Vermonters treasure their natural heritage and working lands. But until now, there was little sense of the economic return we get when we protect forested and natural landscapes. The Trust for Public Land’s study shows that conservation efforts support local jobs and result in a high return on investment.”
“Conservation takes down the barriers by preserving farmland and making it a fiscal reality for farmers,” said Lisa MacDougall of Mighty Food Farm in Shaftsbury. “Owning land means we will be able to invest in our farm and take care of our soil for future generations.”
The Vermont Forest Partnership includes Audubon Vermont, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Vermont Land Trust, and the Vermont Natural Resources Council. Additional project funding was provided by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources contributed to the report.

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