Yesterday afternoon’s “Marketplace” radio program covered an interesting (if academic) attempt by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to determine the value of the state’s undeveloped land. Their answer? “At least $26 billion a year worth of goods and services. And that $26 billion a year is worth about $850 billion in present value terms.” Some of the benefits quantified include storm protection, soil-erosion prevention, minerals and agricultural products, and wastewater treatment.
This is an example of what’s being called the “green infrastructure” approach; what does undeveloped land do for surrounding development, cities, and suburbs? What are the true costs of development? New Jersey hopes that by putting a dollar value on undeveloped land, developers, environmentalists, and others can make better land-use decisions.