Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Embargo Period

6-9-2016

Degree Program

Regional Planning

Degree Type

Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.)

Year Degree Awarded

2016

Month Degree Awarded

May

Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between urban tree canopy and physical health measures between different Springfield, Massachusetts neighborhoods. The study hypothesis was that there would be a correlation between urban tree canopy and human health. Statistical analysis was used to examine the correlation between available health data and urban trees. The existing neighborhood health data that was available comprised of asthma rate, infant mortality, and low birth weight. It also examined other data such as median household income, demographic percentages, home ownership, and green space. The research questions guiding this study were: Are there any correlations between urban trees canopy and the asthma rates, infant mortality rates, and low birth weight in Springfield neighborhoods? Do local residents have equal access to resources such as urban tree canopy and green space? Previous research reviewed in the literature shows that urban tree canopy provides social, environmental, physical benefits to their surroundings and to the residents of urban neighborhoods, such as those in Springfield. The literature review also discussed some challenges with regard to unequal access to urban trees in other cities, such as Boston that show environmental justice issue may be an influence. The current study used data on health, demographic, and urban tree canopy data that was primarily collected by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the US Forest Service and ReGreen Springfield. The major findings showed correlations between urban tree canopy and median household income, low birth weight, and demographics percentages. Those correlations indicated that there are signs of environmental justice issues in the City of Springfield. This correlation results verifies prior that was reviewed in the literature. One recommendation to offset the issues of environmental justice would be to invest in organization such as ReGreen Springfield and other organizations that promote planting trees by neighborhood groups.

First Advisor

Robert Ryan

Second Advisor

Flavia Montenegro-Menezes

Third Advisor

David Bloniaz

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