Distribution of capitalized benefits from land conservation

Corey Lang, Jarron VanCeylon, Amy W. Ando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Land conservation efforts throughout the United States sustain ecological benefits while generating wealth in the housing market through capitalization of amenities. This paper estimates the benefits of conservation that are capitalized into proximate home values and quantifies how those benefits are distributed across demographic groups. Using detailed property and household-level data from Massachusetts, we estimate that new land conservation led to $62 million in new housing wealth equity. However, houses owned by low-income or Black or Hispanic households are less likely to be located near protected areas, and hence, these populations are less likely to benefit financially. Direct study of the distribution of this new wealth from capitalized conservation is highly unequal, with the richest quartile of households receiving 43%, White households receiving 91%, and the richest White households receiving 40%, which is nearly 140% more than would be expected under equal distribution. We extend our analysis using census data for the entire United States and observe parallel patterns. We estimate that recent land conservation generated $9.8 billion in wealth through the housing market and that wealthier and White households benefited disproportionately. These findings suggest regressive and racially disparate incidence of the wealth benefits of land conservation policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2215262120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 2 2023


  • environmental justice
  • housing
  • land conservation
  • non-market valuation
  • open space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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