The Amy H Remley Foundation  
   
     
 

GOOD SENSE

It certainly makes good sense to consider the intrinsic worth of the environment alongside any proposal to "develop" land for commercial reasons which in the process may degrade the environment. The Foundation is indebted to the authors of this document for permission to include it to emphasize the worth of the environment to those of us who live in Florida.

The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation – A Case for Florida Forever, March 2009, is distributed by The Nature Conservancy. Sneak a look ahead to view the Conclusion reached in that report and then click on the link below to see the entire work.

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 parks' operations.

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 their needs.

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.

Click here to view the full PDF Report,
or to see the press release at http://www.nature.org/

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