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Crime is reduced by greenery

In urban settings even small patches of green are oases from harsh surroundings. The removal of green where so little exists is keenly felt.

Frances Kuo and William Sullivan tested the common belief that int he inner city, barren spaces are safer than green ones. They compared crime rates for inner-city apartment buildings with varying amounts of vegetation and found that the greener tghe surroundings, the fewer crimes occurred against people and property. Far from shielding criminals, such greenery seems to shield against them.

Widely spaced high-canopy trees, flowers, grass and low-rowing shrubs do not block views, shield crime or create the type of surroundings that promote fear. In the inner city, vegetation that allows for visibility seems to promote safety. Factors combine to explain why this is so.

We're watching and we care. Green spaces bring people together outdoors. The conspicuous presence of people increases surveillance, which discourages criminals.

We're calm. A large body of research indicates that time spent in nature lessens mental fatigue, inattentiveness, irritability and impulsivity -- states of mind that psychologists recognize as precursors to violence. Greenery helps people to relax and renew, reducing aggression and increasing calm.

The study by Kuo and Sullivan was hte first to use police crime reports to examine the relationship between crime rates and vegetation in the inner city.

  • Compared with apartment buildings that had little or no greenery, buildings with high levels of greenery had roughly half as many crimes.

Ideas for Property Owners, City Residents and public Safety Officers

  • think twice before removing trees or greenery for security reasons. Greenery that preserves visibility may promote safety.
  • Landscape urban apartment buildings with tall trees, grass, groundcover, low-growing shrubs and flowers. Such spaces unite neighbors and may inhibit criminals.
  • Spend time daily in the green outdoors. Doing so helps refresh the mind, and dissolve anxiety and tension.
  • Support tree planting and tree care in the inner city. In harsh environments, a little green goes a long way.
This project was supported by the USDA Forest Service Urban and community Forestry Program on the recommendation of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council."

For more articles about NATURE & KIDS

Young Birders Get Serious About Birding Fun
The Squirrel Family 0 Backyard Nature Safari
Hamsters are rodents and cuddly pets
Kids Learning Links
Buddy's Diner (for the birds)
Bird Profiles for Young Naturalists