Canopy and crime
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Canopy and Crime. A study conducted by. Frances E. Kuo. Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With funding from. The Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture The USDA Forest Service

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Canopy and Crime


A study conducted by

Frances E. Kuo

Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


With funding from

  • The Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • The USDA Forest Service

    Urban and Community Forestry Program

    on the recommendation of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council


Take home message


Take home message

The more vegetation outside a residence, the lower its crime rate.


Presentation outline

  • Why Study Canopy and Crime?

  • The Approach

  • The Findings

  • So What?


Why Study Canopy and Crime?


Dense woods and shrubs can conceal criminal activity.


Such dense vegetation evokes both general fear and fear of crime.


Removing greenery to deter crime is a common practice.


But is indiscriminately clearing greenery really a wise policy?


Not all vegetation blocks views.


In fact, vegetation that allows for visibility might inhibit crime.


Such green spaces might inhibit crime because they

  • bring people together outdoors


Such green spaces might inhibit crime because they

  • bring people together outdoors

  • lessen mental fatigue, irritability, and

    impulsiveness


Where would you feel safer?


Can vegetation in the common areas outside a residence actually reduce criminal activity?


The Approach


The Ida B. Wells development in Chicago was chosen as the research site because

  • buildings and amount of outdoor common

    space are similar; only vegetation quantity

    differs


The Ida B. Wells development in Chicago was chosen as the research site because

  • buildings and amount of outdoor common

    space are similar; only vegetation quantity

    differs

  • vegetation does not block views


Characteristics of the residents here were important too.

  • They are randomly assigned to these

    buildings.


Characteristics of the residents here were important too.

  • They are randomly assigned to these

    buildings.

  • They are similar in personal characteristics.


Method

  • Police reports from 98 buildings were

    collected.


Method

  • Police reports from 98 buildings were

    collected.

  • Building common areas were rated for

    quantity of vegetation.


Measuring quantity of common space vegetation

Common space with a low level of vegetation

Common space with a high level of vegetation


Method

  • Police reports from 98 buildings were

    collected.

  • Building common areas were rated for

    quantity of vegetation.

  • The relationship between quantity of

    vegetation and crime rate was analyzed.


The Findings


Buildings with more vegetation had fewer property crimes

8

7

6

# of property crimes

5

4

3

2

1

0

Low

Medium

High

Quantity of vegetation


Buildings with more vegetation had fewer violent crimes

8

7

6

# of violent crimes

5

4

3

2

1

0

Low

Medium

High

Quantity of vegetation

Canopy and Crime


Buildings with more vegetation had fewer crimes overall

8

7

6

# of crimes overall

5

4

3

2

1

0

Low

Medium

High

Quantity of vegetation


So What?


The more vegetation a building had, the fewer crimes – fewer property crimes, fewer violent crimes, and fewer crimes overall.


Common areas with high-canopy trees and grass:

  • are gathering spaces for neighbors


Common areas with high-canopy trees and grass:

  • are gathering spaces for neighbors

  • can foster states of mind that are less prone to

    violence


Not only does vegetation make neighborhoods more attractive, it may make them safer!


To improve the quality of life for the many people who live in poor urban neighborhoods…


We must work together–planting, protecting, and maintaining urban vegetation.


Suggestions for urban property owners, planners, policy makers, and developers:

  • think twice before removing trees or

    vegetation for security reasons


Suggestions for urban property owners, planners, policy makers, and developers:

  • think twice before removing trees or

    vegetation for security reasons

  • landscape buildings with vegetation that does

    not block views


Suggestions for urban property owners, planners, policy makers, and developers:

  • think twice before removing trees or

    vegetation for security reasons

  • landscape buildings with vegetation that does

    not block views

  • maintain vegetation to preserve visibility


Support tree planting and tree care efforts in the inner city.


In harsh environments, a little green can go a long way.


Caring for trees means caring for people!


To share this information with others:

• Copies of this presentation and other, written materials for nonscientific audiences may be obtained at <www.lhhl.uiuc.edu>

• To quote this information in print, please consult the original scientific journal article:

Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). Environment and crime in the inner city: Does vegetation reduce crime? Environment & Behavior, 33, 343-367.

Available at www.lhhl.uiuc.edu


To learn more:

On details of the original study

Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C. (2001). Environment and crime in the inner city: Does vegetation reduce crime? Environment & Behavior, 33, 343-367.

On problems with dense vegetation

Fisher, B.S., Nasar, J.L. (1992). Fear of crime in relation to three exterior site features: Prospect, refuge, and escape. Environment & Behavior, 24, 35-65.

Michael, S.N., Hull, R.B. (1994). Effects of vegetation on crime in urban parks. Blacksburg: Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Department of Forestry.

Schroeder, H.W., Anderson, L.M. (1984). Perception of personal safety in urban recreation sites. Journal of Leisure Research, 16, 178-194.

Talbot, J., Kaplan, R. (1984). Needs and fears: the response to trees and nature in the inner city. Journal of Arboriculture, 10, 222-228.


To learn more:

On tree removal policies to decrease crime

Pluncknett, T.F.T. (1960). Edward I and criminal law. Cambridge University Press.

Weisel, D.L., Gouvis, C., Harrell, A.V. (1994). Addressing community decay and crime: Alternative approaches and explanations. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

On vegetation and decreased incivilities

Brunson, L.B., Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C. (2001). Resident appropriation of defensible space in public housing: Implications for safety and community. Environment & Behavior, 33, 626-652.

Stamen, T. (1993). Graffiti deterrent proposed by horticulturalist [press release]. Riverside: University of California, Riverside.


To learn more:

On vegetation and increased surveillance

Coley, R.L., Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C. (1997). Where does community grow? The social context created by nature in urban public housing. Environment & Behavior, 29, 468-492.

Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: Inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26, 823-851.

On mental fatigue and violence

Kaplan, S. (1987). Mental fatigue and the designed environment. In J. Harvey & D. Henning (Eds.), Public environments (pp. 55-60). Washington, DC: Environmental Design Research Association.

Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). Aggression and violence in the inner city: Impacts of environment via mental fatigue. Environment & Behavior, 33, 543-571.


To learn more:

On vegetation and mental fatigue

Cimprich, B. (1993). Development of an intervention to restore attention in cancer patients. Cancer Nursing, 16, 83-92.

Hartig, T., Mang, M., Evans, G.W. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment & Behavior, 23, 3-26.

Kaplan, R. (1984). Wilderness perception and psychological benefits: An analysis of a continuing program. Leisure Sciences, 6, 271-290.

Lohr, V.I., Pearson-Mimms, C.H., Goodwin, G.K. (1996). Interior plants may improve worker productivity and reduce stress in a windowless environment. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 14, 97-100.

Miles, I., Sullivan, W.C., Kuo, F.E. (1998). Prairie restoration volunteers: The benefits of participation. Urban Ecosystems, 2, 27-41.

Tennessen, C., Cimprich, B. (1995). Views to nature: Effects on attention: Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 77-85.


Other questions?

Contact Frances E. Kuo, Ph.D. ([email protected])

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Landscape and Human Health Laboratory

1103 S. Dorner Drive, MC-636

Urbana IL 61801


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