Thanks to urban greenery, crimes decrease: study in South Africa

The presence of green areas in the city contributes to the decline in violent, sexual and property crimes: according to an international survey

"In

Il urban green helps decrease the crime rate in the city, regardless of the culture of the place and the typicality of the city fabric. This is the conclusion reached by a study conducted in South Africa, the first of its kind.
If research of this type is certainly not new in Europe and North America, the influence of green spaces in different and localized contexts in what is commonly defined as the "Global South" has never been studied before.
In particular, the South African study investigates the relationship between the presence of urban greenery and three different types of crime: crimes against property, violent crimes and crimes of a sexual nature.
The results obtained are similar to the European ones: the nature in the city it's a'great strategy both to pursue and the environmental sustainability than that social. Let's deepen the topic.

An example of fractional tree cover mapped using machine learning, orthophotos and satellite imagery of the city of Johannesburg

A street lined with jacarandes in Pretoria, with the Union Buildings atop Meintjieskop in the background
A street lined with jacarandes in Pretoria, with the Union Buildings atop Meintjieskop in the background

Green in the city and crime: the study in South Africa

The research team analyzed ten years of statistics and data related to crime in South African cities to test the hypothesis that the presence of green spaces was associated with a lower incidence of crime.
In fact, let us recall that South Africa is one of the countries with the highest crime rates in the world: a research of this kind, therefore, becomes an enormous test case on the subject and, above all, a stimulus for the adoption of strategies aimed at increasing the public green.
The researchers used the remote sensing tool to calculate the total number of green spaces for each district, as well as the percentage of trees hosted and the average distance of urban agglomerations from the nearest park.
Well, the results generally followed those from European and North American countries: le greener areas, despite having lower rates of violent and property crimes, however, they are not a deterrent to sexual offenses. Furthermore, a lower incidence of crimes was found in the most well-kept parks equipped with lighting, possible fences and playgrounds, especially compared to green areas without any type of structure.

Are Wood Cities the future? Finland's example for a greener world

The Macrotrend graph highlights the trend of the crime rate in South Africa: although a substantial decrease has been noted in the last twenty years, crimes are one of the most well-known problems of the African country (Graph: Macrotrends.net)
The Macrotrend graph highlights the trend in the crime rate in South Africa: although a substantial decrease has been noted in the last twenty years, crimes are one of the most well-known problems in the African country (Graph: Macrotrends.net)

Environmental sustainability allied with social sustainability

The South African study, twin of many other research on the subject also carried out in Europe, becomes one great opportunity for discussion about the need for bring more greenery to the city, i.e. the areas where the majority of people on the planet are concentrated.
In South Africa in particular, search results can be an important operational input for decision centers, because the scientific and academic world has demonstrated that the benefits of urban greenery go far beyond the environmental agenda for the climate. In the city, in fact, the presence of green means first of all health and inclusion.

Video, the green cycle path that will cross half of Lombardy

In the city, green spaces and urban parks are essential for the fight against the climate crisis, but also for promoting the well-being of citizens from all walks of life (Photo: Yotrak - iStock)
In the city, green spaces and urban parks are essential for the fight against the climate crisis, but also for promoting the well-being of citizens from all walks of life (Photo: Yotrak – iStock)

The disadvantaged areas are less rich in greenery

As anticipated in this research, despite the different social scenario investigated, many European researches echo, which highlight that, too in the Old Continent, situation is not the same for everyoneespecially in relation to public parks.
Indeed, social inequalities today are also measured by the square meters of parks and equipped areas available to the population.
Una research research conducted by the EEA, the European Environment Agency, highlights in fact that in the neighborhoods in which they live low-income groups or minorities, green spaces are significantly lower compared to the areas where a more affluent segment of the population lives.
And this happens all over Europe, from Germany to the Netherlands and all the way to Norway.
And it's not only access to greenery that is a problem, but also the type of space: the poorest people have access to green areas that are not aesthetically pleasing and less equipped, which also cause concern in terms of safety. It appears clear, therefore, that in the city access to nature is also a matter of privilege.

Video, the green cycle path that will cross half of Lombardy

The 17 goals and objectives of Agenda 2030, the UN road map that intends to lead humanity towards a model of sustainable development. These also include an input to increase and improve green spaces in the city, creating inclusion, reducing inequalities and promoting physical and mental well-being (Image: Territorial Cohesion Agency)
The 17 goals and objectives of the 2030 Agenda, the UN road map that intends to lead humanity towards a model of sustainable development. These also include an input to increase and improve green spaces in the city, creating inclusion, reducing inequalities and promoting physical and mental well-being (Image: Territorial Cohesion Agency)

The remarkable benefits of urban nature

- green spaces in the city, as well as decreasing crime rates, they bring with them many other benefits for those who live in urban agglomerations, also from a climatic point of view.
Urban vegetation, for example, helps fight heat islands, i.e. the atmospheric phenomenon which, especially in summer, contributes to the increase in temperature in the city compared to peripheral and rural areas.
Also improving is the quality of the air, which has been struggling with fine dust and pollution for decades.
To benefit from the presence of greenery, however, is also the mental and physical health of citizens: taking a simple walk in a park helps to reduce blood pressure, fight stress and reduce the anxious and depressive states that a large part of the population suffers from today.

MSD, the pharmaceutical sector in the Netherlands turns green

The infographic released by the European Environment Agency highlights the positive influences that urban green spaces have on the body (Image: EEA)
The infographic released by the European Environment Agency highlights the positive influences that urban green spaces have on the body (Image: EEA)

“SOS Nature Deficit Disorder”

In fact, disconnecting from nature is dangerous. Never before has the concept of Nature Deficit Disorder, or nature deficiency disorder.
Term coined by the peadogo Richard Loud, it comes in increasingly worrying disconnect between humans and the natural world. Today we spend less and less time outdoors and, if we are outdoors, we rarely visit natural environments.
The consequence, clearly visible above all among children and adolescents, is theincreased behavioral disturbances, but also of depression and a sedentary lifestyle, one of the silent killers of our age.
Our kids today are growing up more isolated, and for this reason they are more undisciplined, aggressive and, last but not least, more fragile.
In short, it is necessary to reverse the trend. The South African study that highlights the connection between crime and lack of greenery is just one of many that highlights how much the presence of nature can influence human behavioraddressing it in the best way.

United States: the fight against the climate crisis starts with roads and infrastructure

The consequences of nature deficit disorder in children are many and varied: they range from a lack of stimuli, which reduces creativity, to a lack of empathy, which turns them into adults uninterested in the world around them (Photo: Solovyova - iStock)
The consequences of nature deficit disorder in children are many and varied: ranging from a lack of stimulation, which reduces creativity, to a lack of empathy, which turns them into adults uninterested in the world around them (Photo: Solovyova/iStock)

Nature makes its way into the city

Today there are many municipalities that decide to change the geography of the city and the urban fabric by giving more space to parks and greenery in general.
This will, which today also becomes an imperative dictated by the fight against the climate crisis, passes through nature but also through the infrastructure which, in it, must be realized.
La sustainable viability it literally makes its way into urban contexts by increasing the amount of ecological flooring: natural, recyclable and non-polluting, they are the corollary of a worldview that embraces the concept of biophilia, to make it its own and make it concrete.
And in Europe, also from a business point of view, there are many companies trying to carve out a niche for themselves in this nascent sector.
For example, one of these is Solid Earth, a leading company in the sector of ecological flooring: on the other hand, today innovation allows us to make different choices, in terms of infrastructures. Research on materials has given rise to high-performance and non-polluting blends, perfect for living even in a natural and urban context such as that of city parks, which are as good for the environment as they are for people's physical and mental health.

“House of the Future”: construction in Germany is increasingly green

Natural floors such as those made by Terra Solida are perfect for use in urban green areas, even in cases where there are equipped play areas (Photo: Terra Solida)
Natural floors such as those made by Terra Solida are perfect for use in urban green areas, even in cases where there are equipped play areas (Photo: Terra Solida)