University of Virginia Health System study: How green space can reduce violent crime

29 Feb

The Nature Conservancy published How Urban Trees Can Save Lives:

The Planting Healthy Air report documents which cities stand to benefit most from tree plantings, in terms of both heat and PM reduction, and how much investment would be required to achieve meaningful benefits.
The analysis found that investing just US$4 per resident in each of these cities in tree planting efforts could improve the health of millions of people, and that trees are as cost-effective as many other common solutions.
Most of the cooling and filtering effects created by trees are fairly localized, so densely populated cities—as well as those with higher overall pollution levels—tend to see the highest overall return on investment (ROI) from tree plantings…. https://global.nature.org/content/healthyair

Exeter University reported that asthma attacks were reduced in tree-lined urban areas.

Science Daily reported in Asthma attacks reduced in tree-lined urban neighborhoods:

People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighbourhood, a study by the University of Exeter’s medical school has found.
The study into the impact of urban greenery on asthma suggests that respiratory health can be improved by the expansion of tree cover in very polluted urban neighbourhoods.
The study, published in the journal Environment International, looked at more than 650,000 serious asthma attacks over a 15 year period. Emergency hospitalisations were compared across 26,000 urban neighbourhoods in England.
In the most polluted urban areas, trees had a particularly strong association with fewer emergency asthma cases. In relatively unpolluted urban neighbourhoods trees did not have the same impact.
In a typical urban area with a high level of background air pollution — for example, around 15 micrograms of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) per cubic metre, or a nitrogen dioxide concentration around 33 micrograms per cubic metre — an extra 300 trees per square kilometre was associated with around 50 fewer emergency asthma cases per 100,000 residents over the 15 year study period.
The findings could have important implications for planning and public health policy, and suggest that tree planting could play a role in reducing the effects of air pollution from cars.
Over 5.4 million people receive treatment for asthma in the UK with an annual cost to the NHS of around £1 billion. 18 per cent of adults report asthma in the previous 12 months, and a quarter of 13-14 year olds report symptoms. Asthma causes over a thousand deaths a year.
The study led by Dr Ian Alcock, research fellow at the University of Exeter’s Medical School, found that trees and green space were both related to a decrease in people admitted to hospital with asthma…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171117103814.ht

Urban trees can affect the quality of life and health.

See, https://drwilda.com/tag/tree-canopy/
https://drwilda.com/tag/native-american-forest-practices/

Science Daily reported in How green space can reduce violent crime: Researchers seek to enhance public safety by harnessing nature:

Properly designed and maintained outdoor green space has the potential to reduce violent crime and gun violence, to make communities safer and keep residents healthier, a new study suggests. Conversely, green space that is poorly designed and inadequately maintained can help crime take root and spread.
The findings come from a team of scientists that has assembled a big-picture review of research on the complicated relationship between nature and crime in urban areas. They identified several patterns that can help inform public policy, guide urban design and promote neighborhoods that are safe and pleasant to live in.
The project came about because members of the research team had been touched by crime, either directly or indirectly. “All of us had some sort of experience, personally or through family members. And we thought maybe we can do something about it,” said Hessam Sadatsafavi, PhD, of the School of Medicine. “How to control violent crime is a polarizing issue. We are interested to see, as designers whose work is to shape the physical environment, if it’s possible for us to contribute to this conversation and to take some actions to see if we, personally, can contribute to reducing crime.”
The Weed of Crime Bears Bitter Fruit
The research, initiated at Cornell University, sought to synthesize the findings of many previous studies that looked at the effects of various forms of green space on crime and criminal behavior. “We said, OK, we have to start by understanding what is out there in terms of theory, what other people have found,” Sadatsafavi said. “Green space can be a source of or increase the risk of crime in a neighborhood through some mechanism, and it can also reduce the risk. So why is that happening? Is there any way to find a solution to make the risk reduction more effective?”
The researchers initially considered more than 14,000 papers but ultimately winnowed those down to 45 done in the United States, which offered the most relevant insights into how access to nature might improve public safety.
The initial review was challenging because the topic is vast and can be approached from many angles. “You might talk about community gardens, you might talk about people’s lawns,” Sadatsafavi explained. “People who do the studies might go out and count the number of trees on sidewalks, or examine satellite images. Or look at the number of vacant lots that were turned into green space.”
That, combined with the wide variety of crime examined and how it was reported, made it difficult for the researchers to draw specific conclusions. “But,” Sadatsafavi said, “there are definitely patterns.”
For example, nine studies looked at the effect of green space on gun violence. Six found that such interventions reduced crime, while three were inconclusive. “There is evidence that greening interventions at the urban level reduces violent crime, specifically gun violence,” said Sadatsafavi, of UVA’s Department of Emergency Medicine.
“By looking at all these studies, we were able to propose possible pathways [to reduce crime and] put together an overall picture of why this is happening, both in terms of gun violence and in terms of overall crime rate.”
Using Nature to Reduce Crime
Sadatsafavi hopes that the researchers’ findings, outlined in a paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, will lead to community interventions that keep people safe, decrease crime and promote better quality of life…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200227144253.htm

Citation:

How green space can reduce violent crime
Researchers seek to enhance public safety by harnessing nature
Date: February 27, 2020
Source: University of Virginia Health System
Summary:
Researchers identified patterns that can inform public policy, guide urban design and promote neighborhoods that are safe and low in crime.

Journal Reference:
Mardelle Shepley, Naomi Sachs, Hessam Sadatsafavi, Christine Fournier, Kati Peditto. The Impact of Green Space on Violent Crime in Urban Environments: An Evidence Synthesis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019; 16 (24): 5119 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16245119

Here is the press release from the University of Virginia Health System:

Study Reveals How Green Space Can Reduce Violent Crime
February 27 2020

Properly designed and maintained outdoor green space has the potential to reduce violent crime and gun violence, to make communities safer and keep residents healthier, a new study suggests. Conversely, green space that is poorly designed and inadequately maintained can help crime take root and spread.
The findings come from a team of scientists that has assembled a big-picture review of research on the complicated relationship between nature and crime in urban areas. They identified several patterns that can help inform public policy, guide urban design and promote neighborhoods that are safe and pleasant to live in.
The project came about because members of the research team had been touched by crime, either directly or indirectly. “All of us had some sort of experience, personally or through family members. And we thought maybe we can do something about it,” said Hessam Sadatsafavi, PhD, of the School of Medicine. “How to control violent crime is a polarizing issue. We are interested to see, as designers whose work is to shape the physical environment, if it’s possible for us to contribute to this conversation and to take some actions to see if we, personally, can contribute to reducing crime.”
The Weed of Crime Bears Bitter Fruit
The research, initiated at Cornell University, sought to synthesize the findings of many previous studies that looked at the effects of various forms of green space on crime and criminal behavior. “We said, OK, we have to start by understanding what is out there in terms of theory, what other people have found,” Sadatsafavi said. “Green space can be a source of or increase the risk of crime in a neighborhood through some mechanism, and it can also reduce the risk. So why is that happening? Is there any way to find a solution to make the risk reduction more effective?”
The researchers initially considered more than 14,000 papers but ultimately winnowed those down to 45 done in the United States, which offered the most relevant insights into how access to nature might improve public safety.
The initial review was challenging because the topic is vast and can be approached from many angles. “You might talk about community gardens, you might talk about people’s lawns,” Sadatsafavi explained. “People who do the studies might go out and count the number of trees on sidewalks, or examine satellite images. Or look at the number of vacant lots that were turned into green space.”
That, combined with the wide variety of crime examined and how it was reported, made it difficult for the researchers to draw specific conclusions. “But,” Sadatsafavi said, “there are definitely patterns.”
For example, nine studies looked at the effect of green space on gun violence. Six found that such interventions reduced crime, while three were inconclusive. “There is evidence that greening interventions at the urban level reduces violent crime, specifically gun violence,” said Sadatsafavi, of UVA’s Department of Emergency Medicine.
“By looking at all these studies, we were able to propose possible pathways [to reduce crime and] put together an overall picture of why this is happening, both in terms of gun violence and in terms of overall crime rate.”
Using Nature to Reduce Crime
Sadatsafavi hopes that the researchers’ findings, outlined in a paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, will lead to community interventions that keep people safe, decrease crime and promote better quality of life.
“The dream scenario for me, personally, is to raise awareness about the effectiveness and the cost effectiveness of these strategies,” he said. “Our next goal as a team is to develop design guidelines for, say, how a community garden or small community park should be designed, to improve the positive effects of the green space and provide practical, hands-on information for people who are in the field, whether landscape architects or people who are starting their own community garden.”
About the Study
The study’s authors were Mardelle Shepley, Naomi Sachs, Sadatsafavi, Christine Fournier and Kati Peditto. To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog.
MEDIA CONTACT
Joshua Barney
Deputy Public Information Officer
Email: jdb9a@virginia.edu
Phone: 434.906.8864

See, Envisioning a Great Green City: Nature needs cities. Cities need nature. https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/envisioning-a-great-green-city/

Resources:

Urban Forestry & Energy Conservation Bibliography https://articles.extension.org/pages/71120/urban-forestry-energy-conservation-bibliography

Urban Forestry Bibliography Created by the Forest Service … https://www.milliontreesnyc.org/downloads/pdf/urban_tree_bib.pdf
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