Can protecting land promote employment? In New England, the answer is yes

Read the full story at The Conversation.

Protecting land from development provides numerous ecological and social benefits, but many people debate whether it hurts or helps local economies. Some worry that land protection will inhibit economic growth by restricting local resource use or building opportunities. Others counter that land protection can support local economies because it promotes sustainable resource use, tourism and recreation and attracts new residents and businesses.

To assess these competing views, we looked at New England. Since 1990, these six states from Connecticut to Maine have protected more than 5 million acres of land, creating a unique natural experiment in conservation.

Our interdisciplinary team has developed quasi-experimental methods to evaluate conservation initiatives across the globe, and has studied the New England region in depth. Recently, we worked together to examine how land protection in New England affected key economic indicators for the 1,500 towns and cities in the region from 1990 through 2015.

Our results show that saving land can also help economies. Over those 25 years, land conservation moderately increased local employment numbers and the labor force, without reducing new housing permits.

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