• EcoBenefits: Measuring the Economic Benefit of Local Parks

    The purpose of collecting your EcoBenefits data is measuring the ecological and economic benefits of parks. The categories that we are currently examining in the EcoBenefits calculator are the environmental, economic, and social impacts, which reflect the greater value of parks and relate to a macro-economic picture. Eventually, we will expand on the social value of park resources in areas of health, education, and community cohesion. Of even greater significance will be the indirect economic benefits, including the recurring value in dollars and jobs of the lands and facilities serving the community. For example, a lighted soccer field not only entails the capital cost of building, but also the annual cost of maintenance, equipment, uniforms, officials, trophies, and numerous other related expenses that benefit community businesses and residents.

    The numbers generated by the EcoBenefits calculator may be estimates and are intended to be conservative. Nonetheless, community residents may be surprised by the numbers reported. In each of the examined areas, research is provided and cited that justifies the values used. Within each of the larger categories are the sub-benefit areas. All of these are consistent with research conducted by NRPA. 

    After logging into PRORAGIS, look for the EcoBenefits calculator to appear as the final tab under your Full PRORAGIS profile.
     

    Categories


    Environmental

    • Air Quality Benefits Looks at carbon sequestration, the heat island effect, and similar effects of sustainable and properly maintained urban forest and vegetative stands.
    • Water Quality Benefits Considers water runoff, velocity, erosion, and pollution effects of properly managed water detention and flood control systems.
    • Wildlife/Habitat Section will be addressed when more data is available.

    Economic

    • Tax Benefit Commonly referred to as “proximate value,” this is the percentage increase of private housing or business as a result of proximity to parkland. Although there may be value realized from commercial location to an active park (i.e. food service adjacent to a sports park), the greatest value comes from private homes adjacent to passive parks. Those properties abutting the park may have as much as a 20% increase in tax valuation over a similar house that may be in excess of 600 feet from the park.
    • Tourism Most special events offered by a community are associated with attractions managed by the parks and recreation department. Those designed to draw tourism for travel, meals, and lodging over multiple days have the greatest potential economic impact on the community. Much of the data for these valuations will come from hospitality and convention bureaus. Note that although the parks department may reflect the costs of the special event, the benefit generated by the event could not be realized without the department’s involvement.
    • Direct Revenue Almost all park and recreation departments recover some of their costs through generating revenue. This usually entails program and class fees, entry fees, rentals, permits, and similar. The number included here represents the prior fiscal year revenues recovered through these activities.

    Social

    • Health The presence of green spaces has clearly been shown to provide health benefits that have been assigned a value. Once again, the most conservative estimates are being used. Conditions affecting health conditions include stress, depression, obesity, and emotional disorders. No data is provided for the calculation of health benefits at this time.
    • Education Research conducted at 150 schools in 16 states over a 10-year period found that environmental education produces students gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math; improves standardized test scores and grade point averages; and develops problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision making skills. No data is provided for the calculation of education benefits at this time.
    • Community Cohesion Nature apparently helps suppress the “I-me-mine” attitude and accentuates caring qualities. "Now we've found nature brings out more social feelings, more value for community and close relationships. People are more caring when they're around nature." See Francis Ming Kuo paper for more research on this area. No data is provided for the calculation of community cohesion benefits at this time.
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