Healthy Land Supports a Healthy Society

Clockwise from top left: Photos by Raj Das, Joan Chasan, Brent Mathison, SVT Staff

Nature lovers can easily see the value of land conservation and stewardship. The local lands protected by SVT and other land trusts provide wonderful opportunities to hike, watch birds, and enjoy fresh air. They protect habitat for wildlife and add scenic beauty to our region.

Yet our protected lands also do much, much more.

Natural areas, working farms, and working forests provide us with clean air, clean drinking water, nutritious food, and sustainable building materials. On a broader scale, healthy lands also support healthy economies and enrich our quality of life.

As an example, the more than 7,000 farms in the state directly support nearly 26,000 jobs. These jobs boost spending at local businesses, generate local tax revenue, and enhance property values. Local parks and open spaces also contribute to our quality of life and make Massachusetts a desirable place to live, providing a further boost to the economy. The availability of outdoor activities is especially appealing to younger adults, which makes the state more attractive to businesses looking for a strong labor pool.

Economic Benefits. 
SVT has helped numerous landowners use agricultural preservation restrictions or conservation restrictions to protect their working lands, which make big contributions to local economies.

Community Character. Our friends at the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust are helping to create and maintain the Concord River Greenway Park, a city-owned multiuse recreational trail. Photo courtesy of Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust.

A 2013 Trust for Public Land study found that for every dollar we invest in land conservation in Massachusetts, we see a fourfold return in the economic value of natural services. Conserved lands, which include parks, natural areas, and working lands, support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the tourism, outdoor recreation, agriculture, forestry, and commercial fishing industries.

Healthy natural areas can also mitigate many of the damaging effects of climate change. Evermore frequent and severe storms result in widespread property damage and lost productivity. Prolonged droughts disrupt local food production. Increased pollution has a detrimental effect on human health and drives up medical costs.

By conserving natural areas, we protect the intrinsic ability of nature to fight back. Undeveloped forests store carbon and keep the understory cool. Trees and other plants filter pollution and contaminants from our air and drinking water. The grassy banks and wetlands along our rivers filter and slowly release storm water, which protects us from floods.

In other words, the protection of each local forest, farm, or meadow has a ripple effect on the health of society. With your support, SVT can continue to play a key role in protecting the health of our region.

Check out our December 2020 Wren newsletter for some specific examples of natural areas that contribute to healthy societies.