The benefits to Floridians of permanent land conservation – and of Florida Forever specifically –
are manifold. In many respects the natural amenities of Florida are the single most important aspect of life
in Florida and the characteristic that differentiates life here from so many other locations. Historically,
the category of conservation benefits least understood and appreciated by the public are those related to the
economy. This report, "Economic Benefits of Land Conservation: A Case for Florida Forever",
endeavors to explain and document those advantages.
The proceeding pages report that:
Healthy native habitats and species are an integral component of the foundation of Florida's tourism
industry – Florida's single most important economic engine. During 2006, wildlife viewing alone had
a total economic impact of $5.2 billion and supported a minimum of 51,000 jobs.
Fishing and hunting accounted for a robust industry of more than $8 billion in 2006 and helped support
almost 85,300 jobs. This industry requires healthy freshwater, forest, and marine ecosystems to sustain the
state's fisheries and wildlife populations.
Based on Fiscal Year 2007–2008 data, the Florida state park system had an overall direct economic
impact of more than $1 billion on local economies throughout the state. More than $70 million was contributed
to general revenues in the form of state sales taxes, and 20,100 jobs were generated as a result of the state
The report also finds that:
Florida's agriculture industry is tied to natural resource protection and provides economic, cultural,
recreational and ecological benefits. In 2006, the state's forest products and ranching industries
accounted for a $9.8 billion economic impact and supported a minimum of 195,000 jobs.
Conservation helps to buffer Florida's military installations and to continue national security
training while helping preserve Florida's natural communities and threatened and endangered species.
Military facilities must be buffered to avoid future base closures in Florida.
These findings – and the dependence of many of Florida's key industries on healthy natural
resources – make clear the importance of Florida's investment in land conservation. The support of
taxpayers, businesses, legislators and governors for Florida Forever, and Preservation 2000 before it, has
yielded real and sustainable economic benefits.
Today we face economic challenges that make the role of Florida Forever even more essential. In order to
sustain Florida's economy and quality of life, Florida's leaders need to continue to seek approaches
that meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
Several major reports have found that Florida's land and water protection programs must be expanded to
continue to provide the foundation for human life and business in the state. Individual member organizations
of the Florida Forever Coalition estimate that there exists a $17 billion need for Florida Forever ranked
projects alone, and $4.5 billion for parks and recreation.
Loss of natural land through development is almost always
irreversible. Unlike money, we cannot borrow more Florida springs, sandhills or longleaf pine forests. As
demonstrated by the billions of dollars governments have been required to pay for environmental restoration
projects in Florida, such as the Everglades (first priced at $8 billion but now estimated at $20 billion),
Lake Okeechobee ($1.3 billion), and the St. Johns River ($625 million), it is far less costly to preserve
natural resources through landmark programs like Florida Forever than to try to restore them later. Land
protection ultimately results in fewer costs to taxpayers and avoids negative impacts to the industries that
clearly rely on functioning ecosystems.
By stimulating Florida's economy through Florida Forever and other initiatives that sustain healthy and
functioning ecosystems, Florida's policymakers can ensure future generations inherit the "life
support systems" that are the foundation of Florida's quality of life and economic prosperity.