Urban Forestry Has Crime Prevention Role

By Patricia R. McCoy
Boise, ID (January 22, 2008)- Disorder leads to fear of crime, which in turn leads to crime, and ultimately to urban decay. Urban forestry and gardening can be designed to help prevent crime, simply by creating order and making surveillance easier, says Joseph Murray, biology instructor at Blue Ridge Community College, Weyers Cave, Va.

Law enforcement personnel don’t always agree, said Murray, also active on the Virginia Crime Prevention through Environmental Design Committee. In Boise to address one of the many training workshops at the Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association’s annual expo and educational meeting, Murray said crime prevention can be in conflict with vegetation in and around a city.
“Police tend to believe more vegetation means less visibility. A study in 2001 looked at subsidized housing units with varying amounts of vegetation around them. The most calls to the police came from the building with the least vegetation,” he said. “Those with more vegetation tended to draw residents who demanded benches and well-maintained playground equipment. Then, people were out there watching.”
However, a second unpublished study yielded opposite results, he said. “We do know landscaping can decrease aggression in children,” he said. “Research also indicates people recover faster from fatigue in a landscaped environment. “It is possible to identify the cause of disorder and design it out with a few well-placed trees and grass,” he said. “When the general public is involved in designing a landscape projects, it works. When the city does all the work, it generally doesn’t.”
In another seminar, nursery workers and landscapers learned there are many resources available to help them if they want to start up a small business, or make one go. Rick Vycital, regional director of the Small Business Development Center, Boise State University, said employee training grants are available through the Idaho Department of commerce. The Boise Public Library has lists of nonprofit organizations looking for fund-raising ideas nurserymen can tie into. The University of Idaho’s small business incubator and food laboratory can help someone trying to launch a new product.
“The list goes on,” Vycital said. “You start out with a good idea, but you need the resources, maybe a license, access to raw commodities, money and much more. Get help. It’s free, and there’s lots of it out there.” Preregistration was way up for this year’s expo. Some 1,300 were expected to attend different sessions by the time it ended on Jan. 18, said Ann Bates, INLA executive director. So many businesses wanted to participate in the trade show she had a waiting list of 60 companies for whom there was no room, Bates said. Even so, some 154 booths filled the display rooms in the Boise Centre on the Grove for the expo.
Related Resources:
Capital Press
More Trees = Less Crime
The Urban Forest Healing Center
Addressing Security by Creating a Sense of Community
Partnerships for Building Crime-Resistant Communities
Linkages between Crime Prevention, Pedestrian Safety, Public Health and Economic Vitality