by FE Kuo, WC Sullivan

Environment and Behavior 33:343-367


Historically, vegetation, in particular dense vegetation, has been linked to crime and fear of crime. More recently, evidence has arisen that vegetation might instead deter crime, perhaps by increasing “eyes on the street” and mitigating stress and other precursors to violence. In this study, the Ida B. Wells public housing project in Chicago was used to assess the connection between trees and crime. This housing project offered an ideal natural experiment: the architecture and the demographics of the residents of many of the buildings are strikingly homogeneous, varying only in the amount of vegetation outside. Crime reports were collected from the Chicago Police Department and classified as property crimes or violent crimes. Aerial and ground-level imagery were used to determine vegetation cover. Potentially confounding variables that were controlled for include number of apartments, vacancy rate, and height of building. The results showed a clear inverse relationship between level of vegetation and crime that is independent of the identified confounding variables.

Region: Chicago, Illinois
Publication Type: Journal article
Keywords: crime, human health and well-being, residential, safety, social benefits, urban forestry, and urban planning