Healthy Lands, Healthy Economies 2020

March 12, 2020

Posted in: News Articles

Healthy lands support healthy economies

The Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies initiative, led by Ag + Open Space, provides information about the multiple benefits of land conservation – including the substantial economic benefits that the Sonoma County community derives from its long term investments in protecting our natural and working lands. 

Working with respected natural resource economists, Ag + Open Space evaluated the return on investment from protecting watersheds, farms, ranches and greenbelts, and has shared this information with the community via case studies, reports and presentations. 

This research has found many ways in which healthy lands help us everyday. For example:

  • The most cost effective way to provide clean water is to prevent it from becoming polluted in the first place. Protecting the upper reaches of the Dry Creek watershed above Lake Sonoma has saved taxpayers over $1.6 million in water quality treatment costs over ten years, all the while sequestering carbon, protecting wildlife habitat and maintaining thriving agricultural operations. 
  • Conserving land for parks, trails and outdoor recreation avoids over $17.5 million in health care costs each year by creating spaces for people to get outside, exercise, hike, ride and play. 
  • A significant body of research documents the links between physical activity and health — reducing the incidence and severity of a wide range of illnesses, including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer. 
  • Healthcare providers across the U.S., including here in Sonoma County, are now writing “parks prescriptions” to encourage patients to engage in some form of physical activity and develop outdoor exercise habits.

Investment in land conservation has multiple benefits and is the gift that keeps on giving! 

For more information, and to see all the reports and studies from the Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies initiative, visit

The initiative is a collaboration among Sonoma Ag + Open Space, Santa Clara County Open Space Authority and the Santa Cruz Resource Conservation District, with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and the California State Coastal Conservancy.