Examining the Associations Between Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and the Potential Distribution of Four Urban Ecosystem Services in Rochester, NY

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Joshua Greene, Kaitlin Stack Whitney, Karl Korfmacher


As populations and the total area of impervious surfaces continue to grow in developed areas, planners and policy makers must consider how local ecological resources can be utilized to meet the needs and develop climate resilient and sustainable cities. Urban green spaces (UGS) have been identified as critical resources in improving the climate resiliency of cities and the quality of life for residents through the urban ecosystem services (UES) that they provide. However, certain communities within cities do not have uniform access to these UGS, and this may be due to historical legacies (i.e. redlining) and/or contemporary practices (i.e. urban planning). Therefore, we sought to determine if the supply of UES throughout the city of Rochester, NY is inequitably distributed. We assessed UES using geospatial analysis and literature-based coefficients to measure ecosystem services. We also assessed the distribution of socioeconomic status (SES), including contemporary demographic information (population density, household median income, homeownership percentages, race percentages, and median property value) and historic neighborhood assessment grades assigned by the HomeOwners Loan Corporation (HOLC), throughout the city. By looking at these two sets of data together, we considered the social-ecological conditions and spatial patterns throughout the city to determine if the supply of UES is correlated with SES distribution. We found that there are statistically significant positive correlations between the production of UES in block groups and the SES indicator homeownership percentages, and negative correlations with the percentage of the population that is Black and lower HOLC grades. Furthermore, clusters of block groups with significantly high levels of social need for urban greening projects and a low production of UES were found primarily in the city’s downtown area and the neighborhoods directly surrounding it. This information provides a useful framework for city planners and policy makers to identify where UGS development needs to be prioritized as well how the supply of UES in the city is inequitably distributed.




Life Sciences, Other Life Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Urban Studies and Planning


environmental justice, Socioeconomic Status, Urban ecosystem services, Urban Green Spaces, Urban planning


Published: 2021-08-17 13:36


CC-BY Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 International