Impact of Conservation Easements on Contiguous and Surrounding Property Values (Using Atlanta MSMA as a template)

By: Weiyi Zhang, Ph.D. Student, Forest Finance and Economics, spokesperson,

Dr. Richard (Bin) Mei, and

Mr. Bob Izlar

Executive Summary

We apply the hedonic pricing model to estimate the values of sampled properties based on the attributes of surrounding conservation easements (CEs) within the Metropolitan Atlanta Statistical Area. First, we collected data on forest related CE’s in these counties and randomly sampled 72 land parcels that are currently for sale in the same counties for prices, sizes and land types. The distance between each property and the nearest CE is then calculated. We find that the further away from CE-protected open spaces, the higher property values are. We also find limited effects of sizes of CE-protected spaces and the number of CE programs in the vicinity. We attribute these findings to the fact that most of our sample properties are undeveloped lots and hence are less influenced by the enhanced ecosystem services brought along by CE-protected forests. In addition, we find that county locations of properties are associated with property values and interpret from the results that counties with budgetary constraints may face revenue pressure from residents’ participation in CE programs.

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