Community Conservation

Conservation and Communities

Land protection is a personal decision that a landowner makes about their own land. However, land protection and conservation have implications beyond the scale of an individual landowner. Selectboards, town planners, conservation commissions, and residents all influence and are influenced by conservation decisions within a community. The resources on this page can help communities better understand how conservation and land protection impact things like taxes and town finances, economic growth and sustainability, and community health. 

Communities Across New England Get an Economic Boost from Protected Land

A new study from Harvard Forest showed that land protection positively impacts local economies throughout New England. Click here to read more about the study, and click here to listen to this work featured on NPR!

How does Land Protection Influence Taxes and Town Finances?

Cost of community services studies help towns understand how land use influences town revenues and expenses. This method, developed by the American Farmland Trust, has been used in dozens of communities around Massachusetts and the US. 

Recent COCS analysis for four Massachusetts communities

Step-by-step Guide: How to calculate a COCS ratio for your own town.

Use this spreadsheet along with the PDF to help you calculate the ratios: Spreadsheet to accompany the step-by-step guide

COCS metanalysis: An academic journal article exploring some of the assumptions of COCS, and what town characteristics influence the ratios

Research has shown that properties near conserved land have higher property values. Click here to read a review of these studies.

Health and Community Sustainability

The Trust for Public Land has conducted multiple studies about the benefits of open space to communities within and outside Massachusetts. Explore their Massachusetts website to learn more about their work in the state, and their economic and community health page to learn about studies related to those topics. Click here to access TPL's 2011 report on the return on investment  in open space and park conservation in Massachusetts.