An Economic Valuation of Open Space Lands

This first-ever regional economic valuation demonstrates how natural capital and its benefits directly support the region’s economic health and overall well-being. The value of Santa Clara County’s natural capital is estimated between $162 and $386 billion. The value of the County’s benefits from nature (clean air, water supply and quality, reduced fire and flood risk, wildlife habitat, pollination, healthy food and recreation) ranges from $1.6 to $3.9 billion annually. Nature’s Value in Santa Clara County was produced by the Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies Initiative (see details below).

News Release: Silicon Valley Natural Capital is Worth Over $160 Billion

Full Interactive Report - Nature's Value in Santa Clara County

Quick Summary of Highlights - Nature's Value in Santa Clara County

Ecosystem Services Description

"If we actually had to pay for these 'free' services, the price tag would likely be out of reach. When we measure the dollar value of Santa Clara County's natural capital assets and related benefits, we see how nature provides the foundation for a thriving local economy."
~ General Manager,
Andrea Mackenzie

The Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies Initiative is a multi-county effort launched to increase the pace and scale of conservation, secure new sources of funding, and enroll new allies for open space conservation and stewardship. The Initiative conducts economic valuations of natural capital and documents the return on investment for land conservation and restoration. Nature’s Value in Santa Clara County is the first in a series of reports that will document the economic value and multiple benefits of conservation in the three counties. Upcoming reports include countywide natural asset valuations for Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties, and detailed economic analyses of benefits, costs and job creation for conservation investments that protect drinking water supplies, agricultural viability, recreation and tourism, wildlife habitat enhancement, and climate change resiliency.

Healthy Lands & Healthy Economies Initiative overview

Putting Nature on the Balance Sheet

by Alison Hawkes (reprinted from Bay Nature)

In a world where money talks, as they say, nature has been at a distinct disadvantage. How do you put a price tag on the existence of a species, or the workings of a watershed, or the presence of a forest?

And yet it’s obvious that nature has value and can do important things for us, other than provide resources to be exploited. For years, conservationists in the public policy arena have tried to make the philosophical argument that undeveloped nature is an asset, economic as well as spiritual and recreational. That is, a tree that isn’t logged provides services such as erosion control, air filtering, and acts as a carbon sink, all of which have an economic value, but just not one that we typically measure. Now, three Bay Area counties —Santa Clara, Sonoma and Santa Cruz — have found a way to put these values of nature onto a balance sheet. -Read the rest of the article here.

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We are grateful to our generous supporters who made this important work possible: