The therapeutic effect of nature is well known: the vision of a green space, be it a forest, a garden, or even a painted landscape reduces anxiety and stress levels, puts you in a good mood and even helps to extend life.
A study published in the scientific journal Environment and Behavior went further and concluded that the presence of plants in neighborhoods could lower the number of crimes perpetrated in them. A revolutionary work, because traditionally the opposite was thought: vegetation is the perfect hiding place for "thugs and thugs", so the "cleaner" the streets were of trees and shrubs, the safer they would be.
The authors, from the University of Illinois (USA), approached the matter from another perspective: a green space does not have to be made up of very dense vegetation, but more open designs can be proposed: large extensions of lawns, trees spaced between yes, flowerpots ... In this way the gardens are not a hiding place for criminals and, moreover, there is the opposite effect: the crime rate decreases.
This fact is explained by two reasons: firstly, it increases vigilance over potential thieves or assailants, since a more friendly landscaped environment invites people to go out and make more life on the street. In this way, the number of neighbors on the streets increases and criminals feel observed.
The second reason has to do with the therapeutic effect of nature that we mentioned at the beginning: the presence of vegetation mitigates what the authors call “psychological precursors of violence”: irritability, lack of attention and a decrease in impulse control. In other words: the greener the environment, the less aggressive we feel.
To demonstrate their hypotheses, the scientists analyzed the crimes committed in different areas of a Chicago suburb, considered among the twelve worst neighborhoods in the US, with an unemployment rate of over 90% and a large proportion of children and adolescents at risk of exclusion. . In it, as in many suburbs of the world, trees and gardens have been progressively eliminated to save costs, for in many areas it is impossible to find a blade of grass. The results revealed, however, that these savings are expensive: areas without vegetation had a significantly higher crime rate.
More trees for the cities of the 21st century
Since the publication of this work in 2001, there have been many studies that show that green areas can make our cities more livable and safer People who live in neighborhoods with parks and gardens tend to talk more to each other, for what is created a feeling of community and of bond with the neighbors that today, unfortunately, is disappearing in many big cities.
Furthermore, the authors of the study also suggest that involving the inhabitants of the neighborhoods in the creation of their green spaces, for example by planting trees, increases the feeling of territoriality and belonging to a place, with also positive consequences on the safety and welfare indices of citizens.
And it is that, in light of the results of this and many works, it seems that nature should be increasingly a protagonist in urban plans, since the benefits of having trees as neighbors are unlimited: in addition to its consequences on the well-being of people also perform other important functions: they clean the air we breathe and, in addition, in summer they relieve us from the heat: it has been proven that in areas of large cities where there are green roofs, temperatures are lower.
Sources: Environment and Behavior; Psychogeography: the influence of places on the mind and heart Ecoportal.net
By Victoria González
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