A new study by researchers from the U.S. Forest Service suggests that there’s a relationship between the size and presence of trees in a neighborhood and a lower rate of criminal activity. It says that some urban trees may actually reduce incidences of property crimes and acts of violence. Study regarding the relationship between trees and crime are done by using neighborhoods in the city of Portland, Oregon as a case sample.
The team studied various police reports for property and violent crimes while noting various neighborhood characteristics, including the quality of tree-coverage where each incident occurred using aerial mapping and on-the-ground observations. When analyzed, the data suggests that areas with large trees, both in front and backyards had lower levels of crime. It took them 2 years to arrive at the theory that trees reduce crime. The report appeared in the Science Daily.
Excerpt from the report reads “We wanted to find out whether trees, which provide a range of other benefits, could improve quality of life in Portland by reducing crime, and it was exciting to see that they did. Although a burglar alarm may deter criminals, it won’t provide shade on a hot summer day, and it certainly isn’t as nice to look at as a tree.”
Geoffrey Donovan, one among the researchers opined “We believe that large street trees can reduce crime by signaling to a potential criminal that a neighborhood is better cared for and, therefore, a criminal is more likely to be caught.”
The study also says that large trees tend to be associated with reduced crime rates but the theory is not applicable in case of some smaller trees in the neighborhood. This is because they run the risk of being “view-obstructing,” thereby making criminal acts like vandalism or burglary less easy to detect.