A Maryland Planning Blog article (2019-05-29) highlighted the 1-year anniversary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) GreenPrint/Parcel Evaluation Tool. The Tool helps counties and other users put a dollar-value on the conservation and environmental benefits of open space, forests, wetlands, and other ecologically important lands.
From the article:
“The Parcel Evaluation Tool was created to reveal the relative importance of natural areas across the state that typically may not be considered when making land use decisions” says Dr. Elliott Campbell, Director, at the Center for Economic and Social Science at DNR, “whether one is looking at the state, regional or municipal level, or even on an individual parcel basis”. …
The tool has clear applications and is accessible to and readily used by everyone from county and municipal planning organizations setting land use priorities, to conservation groups and land trusts seeking to acquire and preserve land in ecologically sensitive areas. It is also a valuable tool for private citizens interested in the “non-traditional” value of their property when considering whether to develop it, donate it for preservation, or preserve it themselves. It is a simple, user-friendly tool with which a user can either type in an address or click anywhere on an interactive map of the state to run a report revealing data and actual dollar figures to help determine these non-traditional or “non-market” values of a parcel.
The article noted that the Tool can identify: (1) qualitative benefits (expressed through a Benefits Rating), such as habitat connectivity, rare species, wildlife habitat, aquatic life, key forest, and other environmental factors; and (2) quantitative benefits (expressed through a dollar valuation of the land’s “Ecosystem Services”), such as air pollution removal, carbon sequestration, groundwater recharge, stormwater mitigation and other factors. The article cautioned that while the generated dollar values are reflective of the ecological value of the land, they are not the same as a “fair market appraisal” of the land.