Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name



Geography and Geosciences

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Crime; Vegetation; Geography; Environmental; Criminology; Louisville; Kentucky


Conflicting evidence exists about environmental determinants of crime. While scholars agree there is a relationship between environmental factors and crime, there is not consistency among measures of associations. Looking specifically at the influence of vegetation, there is disagreement as to whether vegetation promotes or deters crime. Some studies show criminals use vegetation as a tool to conceal themselves, while others show vegetation serves as a territory marker, which discourages criminals. My research explores these factors within Jefferson County, Kentucky’s largest and most urban, using NDVI as a proxy for vegetation cover and spatially explicit crime densities aggregated to the census block group level. Of over 30 types of crime, I subset crimes to those that tend to occur outdoors: assault, auto theft, burglary, robbery, and theft. Percent of occupied houses, percent owned/mortgaged houses, median age, per capita income, educational attainment, population density and percent in poverty were considered as potentially cofounding aspects of this relationship. The explanatory power of vegetation in regards to crime density was tested using multivariate ordinary least squares regression. The study found that even after accounting for other socioeconomic factors, crime and vegetation have a statistically significant negative relationship. This research provides evidence in exploring the influence of vegetation on crime and, combined with ongoing research into criminal motivations, provides insight into how vegetation conditions might better be included in managing crime in urban areas.