Social Life Under Cover: Tree Canopy and Social Capital in Baltimore, Maryland

Meghan T. Holtan, Susan L. Dieterlen, William C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To what extent does the density of the tree cover in a city relate to the amount of social capital among neighbors? To address this question, we linked social survey data (N = 361) from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study with socioeconomic, urban form, and green space data at the census block group level using a geographic information system. We found a systematically positive relationship between the density of urban tree canopy at the neighborhood block group level and the amount of social capital at the individual level (r =.241, p <.01). Multiple regression analyses showed that tree canopy added a 22.72% increase in explanatory power to the model for social capital. This research adds a new variable—neighborhood tree canopy—to the typologies of green space that affect human social connection. Trees are a relatively inexpensive and easy intervention to enhance the strength of social ties among neighbors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-525
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 4 2015


  • ecosystem services
  • green space
  • neighborhoods
  • social capital
  • tree canopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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