Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies

Valuing our Working & Natural Lands

Although our working and natural lands have immeasurable intrinsic value, these open space lands also provide services that have real, quantifiable economic values — values that are often ignored by markets and can easily be taken for granted. Like built capital, our natural capital — forests, wetlands, rivers, farms, parks — provide goods and services, or ecosystem services, that contribute to our economy.

The Healthy Lands and Healthy Economies Initiative
The Healthy Lands and Healthy Economies Initiative is a regional collaboration led by Sonoma County Ag + Open Space, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority to quantify the benefits and economic values that are provided to the community by working lands and natural areas.

Funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, and the California State Coastal Conservancy, the Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies Initiative demonstrates how community investments in protecting agricultural land and other open spaces enhance the local economy and provide cost-effective ways to achieve community benefits like clean drinking water, flood control, and food security.

A countywide study, The Multiple Benefits of Sonoma County Working and Natural Lands, offers a broad estimate of the value of natural and working lands in Sonoma County, and the return on decades of local conservation investments by tribes, landowners, public agencies and non-profits. Complementing this screening-level evaluation of natural capital, a suite of local case studies detail these services for particular themes or places in Sonoma County.

In addition, Natural Capital in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma Counties summarizes the ecosystem services across all three counties. For more details about the natural capital in Santa Clara County, please visit, and for more details about natural capital in Santa Cruz County, visit

Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies Reports (downloadable PDFs)

Case Studies (downloadable PDFs)

Technical Reports (downloadable PDFs)