GreenSpace Alliance of Southeastern Pennsylvania

The GSA advocated for the protection and enhancement of open space from 1992-2012. Groundbreaking research documenting the economic value of open space, Return on the Environment  was published in 2011.


The GreenSpace Alliance teamed up with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to publish “Return on Environment” in 2010.

In 1992, several leading conservation organizations decided to form an alliance to promote and advocate for the preservation and enhancement of recreational, natural, and agricultural open spaces to preserve the quality of life in southeastern Pennsylvania, the most rapidly developing region of the state. We staffed the GreenSpace Alliance (GSA) effort with critical support from the William Penn Foundation. Though the GSA began as a project of PEC, it became a separate 501c(3) organization and was dissolved in 2013.  Some of the GSA’s important initiatives have been sustained by staff at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC).

Along with PEC, important partners in the GSA effort included Brandywine Conservancy, The Heritage Conservancy, Montgomery County Lands Trust, Natural Lands Trust, PennEnvironment, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. The GSA was a model of regional open space advocacy that catalyzed and fostered the teams that work to preserve each priority landscape, and by sharing through its website and other educational venues the best information available for effectively meeting preservation goals.

The focus and accomplishments included:
  • Preserving Priority Landscapes: Using Geographic Information Systems-based analysis guided by expert advisors, the GreenSpace Alliance developed a Regional Green Plan in which priority landscapes were identified, i.e., landscapes or corridors that for environmental, agricultural, and/or recreational reasons are very important to preserve. This work was incorporated into and reflected in DVRPC’s regional comprehensive plan.
  • Funding/Policy Advocacy: As an example of its role in advocating for funding and sound policy, GreenSpace Alliance worked as regional coordinator to educate voters about the value of several county open space initiatives as well as state bond initiatives such as Growing Greener II, a $625 million bond initiative with monies for land preservation and other environmental projects adopted in 2005.
  • Education: GSA’s published studies, website, and other communications channels offer value-added information that will serve not only Alliance members but all others with an interest in its mission. Of particular impact was the Return on Environment: The Economic Value of Open Space Study, published in November 2010.

Return on the Environment: The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Open Space Enhances Home Values
  • Open space adds $16.3 billion to the value of southeastern PA housing stock.
  • Protected open space generates $240 million annually in property tax revenues.

Open Space Protects Property, Filters Drinking Water, and Cleans the Air
  • Drinking water benefits are nearly $61 million.
  • Flood mitigation benefits exceed $37 million.
  • Clean air benefits from trees on protected open space is $17 million annually.

 Open Space Furnishes Recreation Opportunity and Improves Health
  • Health-related cost savings from physical activity on protected open space include$1.3 billion in avoided workers’ compensation and productivity losses.Each household in the region saves $392/year by having open space available for recreation and exercise.

 Open space Creates Jobs and Spending
  • Agricultural jobs associated with protected farmland make up 45% of employment related to protected open space in southeastern Pennsylvania, totaling 3,100 jobs.
  • Economic activity associated with protected open space generates $30 million per year in state and local tax revenue.
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