Garden Diary

Monday, June 04, 2012

Urban trees reveal income inequality

Trees, at least of the non-fruit bearing sort, would not seem to be a natural subject for a blog like this, but it strikes me that the story below could just as easily be about vegetable gardens, flower gardens and any type of agriculture. About the only thing I've seen where this pattern is reversed is with animals; in our own local urban scene, you'll find more chickens in poorer back yards than in well-to-do ones; but that may be a cultural dynamic and not a socio-economic one.
Wealthy cities seem to have it all. Expansive, well-manicured parks. Fine dining. Renowned orchestras and theaters. More trees. Wait, trees? I’m afraid so.

Research published a few years ago shows a tight relationship between per capita income and forest cover. The study’s authors tallied total forest cover for 210 cities over 100,000 people in the contiguous United States using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s natural resource inventory and satellite imagery. They also gathered economic data, including income, land prices, and disposable income.

They found that for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent. That’s a pretty tight correlation...

Read the rest of the story at Per Square Mile.