Return on Environment

The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Chester County, PA

Protected open spaces provide substantial economic, environmental, and health benefits to surrounding communities, but these benefits are often overlooked or undervalued in policy debates and investment decisions. A better understanding of these benefits can demonstrate how protected open space contributes to economic development and fiscal stability and can reverse the common misconception that conserved undeveloped land is non-productive and non-revenue producing.

Chester County partnered with the major land conservancies active in Chester County, as well as the Chester County Economic Development Council and Chester County Association of Township Officials to produce the Return on Environment report that estimates the economic impact of the County's robust open space preservation initiative. This report is an update of a similar study completed in 2011 by the Green Space Alliance and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission that estimated the economic value of protected open space for all of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Chester County's open space preservation program began in the 1980s amidst a growing public concern that the county's vistas and landscapes were disappearing in a tide of suburban sprawl. Chester County voters overwhelmingly passed a $50 million bond referendum in 1989 for open space preservation, and funding has continued ever since. As of the end of 2018, over 28% of Chester County's land is preserved- a testament to the coordinated effort by County leadership, municipalities, nonprofit partners, and supportive citizens.

View Summary Brochure

View Executive Summary

View Full Report

View Video

Property Value Impacts

Property Value Impacts

Environmental Benefits

Environmental Benefits

Recreation and Health

Recreation and Health

Economic Activity

Economic Activity

Community Cost Savings

Community Cost Savings

Case Studies

Case Studies

Chester County Protected Open Space Tracking (POST)

Every year the Chester County Planning Commission inventories and maps all protected open space in the County including conservation easements, agricultural easements, and public parkland. View a webmap of these properties as well as information about the program.

Chester County Open Space Preservation Efforts

If you are interested in how to go about preserving a property for conservation or agricultural use you can contact the Department of Open Space Preservation.