Trees grow on money: Urban tree canopy cover and environmental justice

Kirsten Schwarz, Michail Fragkias, Christopher Boone, Weiqi Zhou, Melissa McHale, J. Morgan Grove, Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne, Joseph P. McFadden, Geoffrey L. Buckley, Daniel Childers, Laura Ogden, Stephanie Pincetl, Diane Pataki, Ali Whitmer, Mary L. Cadenasso

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124 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the distributional equity of urban tree canopy (UTC) cover for Baltimore, MD, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Raleigh, NC, Sacramento, CA, and Washington, D.C. using high spatial resolution land cover data and census data. Data are analyzed at the Census Block Group levels using Spearman's correlation, ordinary least squares regression (OLS), and a spatial autoregressive model (SAR). Across all cities there is a strong positive correlation between UTC cover and median household income. Negative correlations between race and UTC cover exist in bivariate models for some cities, but they are generally not observed using multivariate regressions that include additional variables on income, education, and housing age. SAR models result in higher r-square values compared to the OLS models across all cities, suggesting that spatial autocorrelation is an important feature of our data. Similarities among cities can be found based on shared characteristics of climate, race/ethnicity, and size. Our findings suggest that a suite of variables, including income, contribute to the distribution of UTC cover. These findings can help target simultaneous strategies for UTC goals and environmental justice concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0122051
JournalPloS one
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Schwarz, K., Fragkias, M., Boone, C., Zhou, W., McHale, M., Grove, J. M., O'Neil-Dunne, J., McFadden, J. P., Buckley, G. L., Childers, D., Ogden, L., Pincetl, S., Pataki, D., Whitmer, A., & Cadenasso, M. L. (2015). Trees grow on money: Urban tree canopy cover and environmental justice. PloS one, 10(4), [e0122051]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0122051