A greenprint is a strategic conservation plan and/or tool that reveals the economic and social benefits that parks, open space, and working lands provide communities. Such benefits include recreation opportunities through the use of parks and trails, habitat protection and connectivity, clean water, agricultural land preservation, and increased resilience to climate change.

Through the development of a greenprint, stakeholders help to identify, map, and prioritize areas important to the conservation of plants and wildlife, water resources, recreational opportunities, and working landscapes. A greenprint reflects local shared priorities and culture. Greenprints can be created largely through technical and scientific input, though they usually involve engagement from the general public and local conservation groups or local government.

In its initial form, a greenprint can be a map-based representation of the open space assets with natural resource and community-based values across the region. The map and associated data can help landowners, local governments, land trusts, and public agencies focus development away from important natural areas and working lands, prioritize conservation areas, and help the public understand the tradeoffs of various land use decisions.

The schematic below is a visual representation of what a greenprint can incorporate. The figure shows the interconnection between various land uses and conservation values in the landscape. Physical and ecological processes support and maintain the delivery of these benefits over time.


Greenprints have a wide range of benefits. Fundamentally, a greenprint can create more opportunities for protection of open space and working lands by linking them to a community’s economic and social values. Conservation investments can help a community improve water quality, provide healthy recreational opportunities, preserve the agricultural economy, and protect the heritage and character of a region.

Greenprints also enable decision-makers to prioritize areas that maximize benefits or minimize conflicts. This can help leverage funding and build a broader base of political support for conservation. For example, if an area is important for groundwater recharge and is located near a city’s greenbelt, it may be eligible for funding to protect the water supply while also providing recreational opportunities.

At a minimum, a greenprint that includes multiple values allows interested stakeholders to understand and communicate about providing a range of benefits. For example, an organization focused on agricultural land may want to promote the habitat value of certain crops to increase the support for protecting farmland. Similarly, the greenprint process allows local officials to develop a coordinated strategy for channeling development to the most appropriate locations to avoid conflicts while protecting important natural resources.

Greenprints are an effective and actionable way to connect the contributions of natural and agricultural values to the ecosystem, the economy, and local communities to benefit people and nature.


A document and framework to advance the pace and scale of voluntary conservation in a region An acquisition map or regulatory plan that dictates land use for any public or private entity
An initial assessment that identifies features on the landscape that are important to participants including recreation, habitat, water resources, agriculture, climate change resiliency, and other community values A complete inventory of everything important within an area or a new data set
An analysis that illustrates how conservation values may work in concert with one another A comprehensive solution for natural resource protection
A resource that helps stakeholders understand shared priorities and facilitates collaboration A requirement that stakeholders engage in projects
A statement of support that addresses the needs and opportunities for keeping working agricultural lands viable An effort to subvert private property rights