Urban forests have become increasingly popular places to run, walk and bike; they also provide a place for large community events such as block parties, picnics, reunion, etc.

A scientific study by University of Illinois researchers Frances E. Kuo, William C. Sullivan, Rebekah Levine Coley and Liesette Brunson has found that, in the inner city, residential spaces with trees and greenery help to build strong neighborhoods.


Graphic courtesy of University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Graphic courtesy of University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign

Green Streets, Not Mean Streets

Less violence occurs in urban public housing where there are trees, according to a study by University of Illinois researchers Bill Sullivan and Frances Kuo. Compared with apartment buildings that had little or no vegetation, buildings with high levels of greenery had 52 percent fewer total crimes, including 48 percent fewer property crimes and 56 percent fewer violent crimes.




Researchers found fewer reports of physical violence in homes that had trees outside their buildings. In addition, people living near trees reported feeling safer than those living in more stark surroundings. Trees have the potential to reduce social service budgets, decrease police calls for domestic violence, and strengthen urban communities.


Cooler Air, Cooler Temper

Trees and shade do more than cool people off physically; they also help cool tempers. A University of Illinois study found that levels of aggression and violence were significantly lower among residents who had some nearby nature outside their apartments than among residents who lived in barren conditions. The study also found that inner city families with trees and greenery in their immediate outdoor surroundings have safer domestic environments than families who live in buildings that are barren of nature. According to the study, exposure to trees and greenery reduces mental fatigue and feelings of irritability that come with it. The ability to concentrate is refreshed, along with the ability and willingness to deal with problems thoughtfully and less


Green is Good for Girls

Trees are good for everyone, but they appear to be especially beneficial for girls. A study by University of Illinois researchers Frances Kuo, Bill Sullivan, and Andrea Faber Taylor found that the greener and more natural a girl’s view from home, the better she scored on tests of self-discipline. The greater a girl’s self-discipline, the more likely she is to do well in school, to avoid unhealthy or risky behaviors, and to behave in ways that foster life success. Self-discipline was measured by the ability to concentrate, to inhibit impulsive behavior and to delay gratification. Boys showed no link between test scores and nature near home, but for girls, on average, the greener the view the higher the scores.