Making our Communities Safer by Planting Trees: How Trees Reduce Violence and Bring us Together

Not only do urban trees and plants make our environments healthier places to live, they also make those of us living in cities happier, safer, and more connected to our environments and to one another. The “Tree People” have put together a list of the Top 22 Benefits of Trees, including that trees clean the air, cool city streets by reducing the heat island effect, and even reduce violence in our local communities.

An urban sidewalk lined with trees
That’s right. Trees can actually make us safer. “Robert Taylor Homes” in Chicago was, at one time, the world’s largest public housing development. As you might expect, most of the areas between these buildings consisted of concrete and asphalt; however, there did exist small pockets of trees in certain areas in the development.

In 2001, Researchers from the University of Illinois conducted research to find out how the Robert Taylor Homes residents’ contact with trees was affecting their overall well-being and safety.

Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes public housing development
What they found was very inspiring. Buildings with high levels of greenery nearby had “48 percent fewer property crimes and 56 percent fewer violent crimes." Even areas with just a few trees or plants nearby were correlated with lower crime rates than areas in the development with no vegetation. They also found that residents living near green areas reported feeling stronger connections to their community, better relationships with their neighbors, and feeling safer in their everyday lives.

A "Tree Diagram" showing some of the results of the study in Chicago
[If you’d like to read more about this particular case, ACTrees has described the study in more detail HERE. If you’d like additional information on the study, you can download the scientific articles HERE]

Just a few trees or plants can have a massive impact on the health, happiness, and safety of a community. With just a little effort, we can make a difference. Here are a few links to various organizations if you’d like to get started planting trees and changing lives:

ACTrees Homepage:
Trees for the Future Homepage:
Arbor Day Foundation Homepage:

Also, since this post was a little on the serious side, here is a little “tree identification” quiz, just for fun. Click HERE to quiz yourself on types of trees.