BENEFITS OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
Constructing an integrated green infrastructure network is a sound investment. If we think of its impact in terms of economics we can isolate both direct and indirect economic benefits to the region.
Directly, a green infrastructure network:
- Increases Property Values: Conservative estimates cite a 5% increase if within 500 feet of a park of greenway
- Develops High-Dollar Ecotourism: Cycling tourists on average earn $50,000+ annually
- Conserves Working Lands: The timber industry accounted for 8.5% of Mississippi’s workforce in 2006
- Offsets Resource Maintenance Costs: A 50 year old urban tree saves $75/year in air conditioning, $75/year in storm water control, and $50/year in pollution control
- Enhances Multimode Transportation: Family income spent on transportation decreases from 25% in auto-dependent neighborhoods to 9% in transit-rich neighborhoods
Indirectly, a green infrastructure network:
- Improves Quality of Life: A leading factor in attracting new businesses and residents
- Advances Public Health: Especially important to the battle against obesity in the Mid South with nationally 1/5 of all healthcare spending on an obesity-related illness
- Retains Ecological Stability: Hunting, fishing, and wildlife industries depend upon habitat stability
- Creates Social Capital: The fostering of community interaction creates new social networks
- Establishes a Sense of Place: Emotional bonds with a community formed through perceived physical beauty and opportunities to socialize are correlated with high rates of GDP growth
Why are our green infrastructure resources especially important for us in the Mid South?
The Mid South has a unique relationship with water. Our position sitting atop an important aquifer, means we must seriously consider the protection and recharging of this aquifer to secure the future water supply. This means that we need to preserve those porous surfaces which allow water to naturally filter through the ground to the aquifer. Our relationship with the Mississippi River also affects our water decisions. Runoff and erosion of agricultural lands are important issues. We can work toward enhancing natural filtration of chemicals and retention of seasonal floodwaters through wetlands restoration.