by FE Kuo

Journal of Arboriculture 29(3):148-155


This paper summarizes Kuo’s foundational work investigating potential links between arboriculture (trees and grass cover) and urban crime. Two public housing developments in Chicago were chosen on the basis of four criteria: variation in the amount of vegetation outside the buildings, features other than vegetation held constant, residents randomly assigned, and residents should have no influence over the maintenance of the vegetation. In this way, the “greener” vs. “less green” settings did not differ in architecture or in their residents. A number of different studies over two decades were undertaken with different methodologies and statistical analyses, including observational studies, interviews, and analysis of police records. Results consistently showed that residents preferred greener areas, spent more time outdoors in the greener spaces, interacted more with each other there, and had stronger community ties; residents of greener buildings felt safer and experienced fewer “incivilities,” e.g., graffiti; and finally, the greener the area around a building, the fewer total crimes (both property and violent crime) reported there. [The Reference section of this paper is a good source of literature on the in-depth reports summarized here.]

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