The need for breathing spaces and recreation grounds is being forced upon the attention of practical men, who are learning to appreciate the fact that a city, in order to be a good labor-market, must provide for the health and pleasure of the great body of workers.
– Daniel H. Burnham and Edward H. Bennett Plan of Chicago, 1909
Burnham was right: the forest preserves’ health and our region’s economic health are linked. Research proves that natural green spaces can help our communities thrive by attracting residents and increasing property values. Green spaces and trails help tourism spending and investment stay at home and can reduce health care costs by offering free public outdoor exercise opportunities.
Just by being there, the preserves also provide our region with millions of dollars’ worth of free services. They clean and cool the air, purify the water and prevent flood damage and soil erosion.
The Forest Preserves’ leadership can help communities and businesses recognize and build on the economic advantages of having protected nature nearby. Visitors to the forest preserves are an important market for small businesses that appeal to trail users and other outdoor enthusiasts. And the kind of young talent that businesses and residential developers want to attract includes outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate nature-conscious building practices and easy access to trails. The Forest Preserves can collaborate on marketing campaigns with neighboring communities, combining nature attractions with small business growth.
Nature is good for business, and the Forest Preserves has an important contribution to make.
SHOW ME THE GOALS & PROGRESS
Communities will value the economic benefits of protected lands.
The Forest Preserves of Cook County were created to help our entire region prosper. As long ago as 1909, Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago made an economic argument for protecting them.
GOAL 3 Priorities
BUILD THE ECONOMIC CASE FOR NATURE.
Document and publicize nature’s benefits
Complete ecosystem valuation
Chicago Wilderness will complete ecosystem valuation for five key indicators in 2016.
Complete an economic impact study
This study will be completed in January 2016.
Demonstrate value of restored habitats.
This study, developed by Openlands, will be completed in 2016.
ENCOURAGE NATURE-COMPATIBLE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT.
Facilitate investment in nature-compatible businesses
Establish two new nature compatible businesses adjacent to preserves
A pilot economic development study for Busse Woods will be completed in 2016.
MARKET THE FOREST PRESERVES AS AN ICONIC ELEMENT OF METROPOLITAN CHICAGO.
Collaboratively market region’s natural areas
Develop and launch joint marketing strategy with the Brookfield Zoo the Chicago Botanic Garden
Collaborative efforts are underway and in 2016, new strategies will be piloted to reach like-minded audiences to raise awareness of the Forest Preserves.
A CONVERSATION OF THE FUTURE
Imagine a young couple with their realtor discussing the benefits of living close to the forest preserves and the new nature-related businesses that will be in place 25 years from now.
“Quite a view, isn’t it? The current owners say it’s even more spectacular when the leaves turn.”
“Yes, but what about when the next development goes up? We’ll be stuck looking at somebody’s fence, or the back of a strip mall.”
“Not here. That land’s all protected. And when the Forest Preserves finishes restoring it, they’ll probably apply to have it dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. That’ll be a permanent addition to this property’s value.”
“That’s what we’ve been looking for—a place that has some trees nearby. How hard is it to get around here by bike?”
“Well, the municipality planned their bike trails to take advantage of the preserves’ trail system, so they’re connected all over this part of the county. A lot of people here actually commute by bike. There’s even a good bicycle repair store down by the post office.”
“Listen to those birds! Are you sure those chirps aren’t just coming from your phone?”
“No, that’s the real deal, I promise! This place is famous for birds—a lot of tourists come out to see them. The little cafes around here do good business selling picnic lunches to go. We could go grab one, if you wanted, and visit the Birding Center. It’s pretty interesting.”
“Let’s do that. It sounds like this neighborhood deserves a closer look.”