Trees Fight Crime

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.

A tree-lined street in Provo’s Joaquin neighborhood.

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3 Comments

Filed under Provo, tree

3 responses to “Trees Fight Crime

  1. Sarah

    Love your blog.

    I just have to comment that I completely disagree that it’s Provo’s “tradition”. Just today, I drove by 500n (near the new rec center) and to my dismay, it looks like several huge, beautiful trees have been cut down in the parkin strip. I have seen this many other places too. I doubt these trees were diseased, but instead, 50 years of growth was cut down to facilitate a few construction trucks for a few month’s of work. It really makes my blood boil. Even if the trees are re-planted, it will take 30 years for the new trees to reach maturity.

    Many places in the city (like the corner of bulldog and 500 w) used to be home to many trees. They are often cut down and not replaced.

    We can also discuss the lack of new trees being planted in older residential areas. What happens when the old trees have to be taken out? Wouldn’t it be better to have younger but established trees growing along these precious old ones?

    • I agree that there has been an alarming amount of tree cutting down lately. I run for about an hour a day in Joaquin and there are several really big, great trees that have been cut down recently.

      But I’d still say we have a tradition of tree planting — based on looking around at our remaining trees — we may have just gotten away from it a bit lately. Also, the city is supposed to give vouchers to home owners for trees they cut down, and there was the recent tree give away by Provo Power.

      But I do think we could be a lot better at this.

  2. Pingback: Trees, Heat, and the Urban Canopy | (pro(vo)cation)

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