Provo has a strong tradition of tree planting and also happens to have an extremely low crime rate. As it turns out, those two things might be connected.
The Atlantic Cities reported today that more trees are linked to safer cities:
In the June issue of Landscape and Urban Planning, a team of environmental researchers led by Austin Troy of the University of Vermont report an inverse relationship between tree canopy and a variety of crimes in the Baltimore city and county regions. All told, Troy and colleagues conclude that “a 10% increase in tree canopy was associated with a roughly 12% decrease in crime.”
The article acknowledges that some people believe vegetation aids criminals because it gives them places to hide. However, the research provides a more nuanced view:
This last result clarifies much of the confused relationship between urban greenery and urban crime: While low dense brush seems to increase it, tall broad canopies seem to decrease it. That nuanced conclusion harmonizes with another study published earlier this year, in which U.S.D.A. Forest Service researcher Geoffrey Donovan (who has also linked urban tree coverage to home prices) reports the same mixed tree-crime associations in Portland, Oregon.
There are numerous reasons to plant trees: they’re pretty, they reduce energy costs, you can climb them. But this research shows yet another reason why continued investment in the urban forest is worth the cost.