A couple weeks ago, blogger Tim De Chant posted an article pointing out the correlation between amount of tree cover in urban neighborhoods and income. It may seem like a no-brainer that wealthier neighborhoods boast larger trees and more overall, but it’s a tighter correlation than you may think. De Chant referenced a study that “found that for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent.”
Apart from neighborhoods that are being blitzed with gentrification, tree cover ought to reveal a neighborhood’s per capita income with a fair amount of precision, given the right algorithm. (Don’t look at me; I’m not figuring it out.)
Anyway, De Chant reasoned that income inequality might be seen “from space.” He grabbed screenshots from Google Earth to compare tree cover in different neighborhoods within a city. The pictures are pretty interesting. He didn’t include Baltimore, so I went and grabbed a couple of my own images. I found the most stunning difference between planned neighborhood Guilford and nearby Waverly in North Baltimore.
Guilford – Median household income, 2009: $84,501
Waverly – median household income, 2009: $43,981
On the other hand, I didn’t find a noticeable difference between Mount Vernon and Greenmount West, despite the large income disparity.
Mt. Vernon – median household income, 2009: $28,480
Greenmount West – median household income, 2009: $18,090
What do you think? Is the “tree test” valid for Baltimore?
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