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Trees and trash: Examining the link between urban forest engagement and blight in Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Formally Refereed
Authors: Cassandra Johnson Gaither, Eric Kuehler, Wayne Zipperer, Ebenezer O. Aka, Brian Barger
Year: 2019
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Human Ecology Review


Research conducted in various contexts suggests that urban greenspace, primarily trees, helps to reduce crime rates and other negative aspects of place. This study contributes to that literature by examining residents’ reporting of activities they do to create, maintain, and protect the urban forest in Atlanta, Georgia (USA), and the association of this involvement with seven inventoried blight indicators and two indicators of blight identified by residents, which included lack of code enforcement. Using binary logistic regression, we found that urban forest engagement was negatively associated only with litter. Rather, residence in predominantly African American communities was the most consistent predictor of more substantial indicators of blight, and lack of code enforcement. Except for litter, these are overwhelming conditions, often involving absentee property owners. Redress requires municipal-level, bureaucratic interventions, which can be complex. Urban forest engagement appears relatively ineffectual in combating the most egregious kind of blight but may aid in reducing more pedestrian forms.


Atlanta, blight, environmental justice, urban forest


Gaither, Cassandra Johnson; Kuehler, Eric; Zipperer, Wayne; Aka, Ebenezer O.; Barger, Brian. 2019. Trees and Trash: Examining the Link Between Urban Forest Engagement and Blight in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Human Ecology Review, Volume 25, Number 2. 91-115.