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Individual Highlight

Does urban tree cover play a role in reducing violence in cities?

Photo of Illustration of the relationship between case-control and case-crossover study designs. Using a case-control approach, a group of case participants who were assaulted (top right) is matched with a control group of like participants who were not assaulted (bottom right). Their environments at the same time of day can be compared for differences. Using a case-crossover approach, the environment of each case at the time of the assault can be compared to the environment each case experienced earlier in the day (top left) to rule-out the influence of factors that differ between case and control participants. Illustration of the relationship between case-control and case-crossover study designs. Using a case-control approach, a group of case participants who were assaulted (top right) is matched with a control group of like participants who were not assaulted (bottom right). Their environments at the same time of day can be compared for differences. Using a case-crossover approach, the environment of each case at the time of the assault can be compared to the environment each case experienced earlier in the day (top left) to rule-out the influence of factors that differ between case and control participants. Snapshot : Green space and vegetation may play a protective role for urban violence.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kondo, Ph.D., Michelle 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1220

Summary

Urban trees and forests provide a host of benefits for communities including cooling, wildlife habitat, and beauty. Another benefit that may not immediately come to mind is the role of urban forests in reducing violence. A Forest Service scientist and her partners investigated whether being near urban tree cover during outdoor activities related to being assaulted with a gun. The scientists conducted interviews with 10- to 24-year-old males in Philadelphia, Penn., speaking to 135 people who had been shot with a firearm and 274 people who had not been shot. Each person interviewed was asked to provide a step-by-step mapped account of where and with whom they travelled over a full day from waking until being assaulted or going to bed. Scientists then laid maps of tree locations and place-specific characteristics over the step-by-step maps. Research results indicate that the likelihood of being assaulted was lower when people were under tree cover as opposed to when they were out in the open. At the time people were assaulted, they were 30 percent less likely to be under tree cover as compared to people who were not shot. These findings indicate that urban greening and tree cover may hold promise as proactive strategies to decrease urban violence.