Urban Residents Rebut Argument That Tree Removal Enhances Safety

February 06, 1998

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A new study suggests that the widely held belief that cutting down trees in urban public housing offers increased safety overlooks an important element in the equation: the perceptions of the people who live there.

When 100 adult residents of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes were surveyed by peers who had been specially trained in data collection by University of Illinois researchers, they gave a clear message that green grass and trees were highly desirable.

In the study -- detailed in the January-February issue of the journal Environment and Behavior -- the residents viewed 40 different pictures of the three 16-story buildings and a courtyard in the complex, located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the nation. The photos showed the area as it is, and, with computer simulations, how the area would look with varying amounts of grass and trees.

"The residents were asked how they felt about the spaces, and how safe they would feel in them," said William C. Sullivan, a professor of landscape architecture in the U. of I. department of natural resources and environmental sciences. "The more trees, the more they liked the space. But most surprisingly, the more trees, the safer they would feel.

"This is really contrary to the opinions given us by police and housing administrators, who said, 'You can't do that,'" he said. "It looks like the residents envision what the area would be like with grass and trees, and they see it as a place someone cares about and is willing to invest in."

The study, funded by the USDA Forest Service North Central Forest Experiment Station in Chicago, was conducted by Sullivan and Frances E. Kuo, co-directors of the U. of I. Human-Environment Research Laboratory, and Magdalena Bacaicoa, a landscape architect now working in France.

The researchers also interviewed police and housing administrators, and they reviewed previous literature on law enforcement concerns that trees heighten fears of attack and on administrators' worries about the cost of installing and maintaining landscaping around public-housing units.

When residents were shown computer simulations of their courtyard with trees, their reactions were strongly positive: 84 percent said they would like it very much if trees were planted; 86 percent said that views would improve with trees; and 96 percent considered it quite important to very important that the courtyard look more natural.

Of three tree densities shown, residents preferred the highest rate of 22 trees per acre. Only 5 percent said they would feel less safe with trees, and one of three said they would be more likely to use the spaces if trees were there. More than half of the residents said they would help plant the trees.

Planting trees and maintaining lawns could be a cost-effective way to address some of the ills plaguing inner-city neighborhoods, Kuo said.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Computer Simulations Articles from Brightsurf:

Promising computer simulations for stellarator plasmas
The turbulence code GENE (Gyrokinetic Electromagnetic Numerical Experiment), developed at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) at Garching, Germany, has proven to be very useful for the theoretical description of turbulence in the plasma of tokamak-type fusion devices.

UCLA computer scientists set benchmarks to optimize quantum computer performance
Two UCLA computer scientists have shown that existing compilers, which tell quantum computers how to use their circuits to execute quantum programs, inhibit the computers' ability to achieve optimal performance.

GMMIP simulations on global monsoon interannual variability show higher skill than historical simulations
GMMIP simulations on global monsoon interannual variability show higher skill than historical simulations.

Simulations reveal how saltwater behaves in Earth's mantle
Giulia Galli's complex computer simulations reveal how saltwater behaves in the Earth's mantle, affecting everything from magma production to the carbon cycle.

Simulations on biologically relevant time scales
Freiburg researchers deliver new insights into molecular mechanisms relevant for drug development.

Supercomputer model simulations reveal cause of Neanderthal extinction
IBS climate scientists discover that according to new supercomputer model simulations, only competition between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens can explain the rapid demise of Neanderthals around 43 to 38 thousand years ago.

Coronavirus massive simulations completed on Frontera supercomputer
Coronavirus envelope all-atom computer model being developed by Amaro Lab of UC San Diego on NSF-funded Frontera supercomputer of TACC at UT Austin.

Simulations show fundamental interactions inside the cell
Actin filaments have several important functions inside cells. For one, they support the cell membrane by binding to it.

Computer simulations visualize how DNA is recognized to convert cells into stem cells
Researchers of the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW - The Netherlands) and the Max Planck Institute in M√ľnster (Germany) have revealed how an essential protein helps to activate genomic DNA during the conversion of regular adult human cells into stem cells.

Computer-based weather forecast: New algorithm outperforms mainframe computer systems
The exponential growth in computer processing power seen over the past 60 years may soon come to a halt.

Read More: Computer Simulations News and Computer Simulations Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.