Urban Green Equity and its Implications for Urban Forest Management

Dr Mike Meitner and graduate student Lorien Nesbitt are investigating the concept of urban green equity and its implications for urban forest management.

The first phase of the project explores ways in which urban societies experience greenery in the city and how the spatial distribution of urban greenery affects these experiences. The next step of the project is to investigate how urban residents experience urban forest benefits in intangible ways, using a case-study approach.

In phase 1 we are conducting a broad-scale spatial analysis of the relationship between urban greenery and socioeconomic factors in 10 North American cities. We derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values from National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) images and are correlating them with census data to identify socioeconomic factors associated with high levels of green inequity. Initial results from Portland and St. Louis suggest that areas with lower population densities and newer neighbourhoods are generally more likely to have higher densities of trees and grass.

However, socioeconomic factors correlated with urban greenery vary by location, with race playing a larger role in Portland and education in St. Louis. The distribution of parks and green spaces also varies by city, with more evenly distributed parks in Portland and more unequal access in St. Louis. This research project has clear practical applications in urban forest planning and management. Cities can use our methods to identify areas of high green inequity and conduct targeted urban forest management to maximize urban forest benefits received by residents and improve their quality of life.

For example, areas with high levels of green inequity are more likely to be vulnerable to climate change impacts that additional urban greenery can help alleviate. In addition, neighbourhoods with lower socioeconomic indicators are more likely to experience poor public and social health outcomes, which may be improved by greater access to urban greenery.

Aerial imagery and census data are used to map urban green inequity in metro areas.

Aerial imagery and census data are used to map urban green inequity in metro areas. Aerial imagery and census data are used to map urban green inequity in metro areas.

Mike Meitner

Mike Meitner
Forest Sciences Centre 2037
2424 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4
Phone: 604–822–0029

Lorien Nesbitt

Lorien Nesbitt
EcoPlan International
131 Water St
Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2
Phone: 604-228-1855