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A systematic review of the relationship between urban forest quality and socioeconomic status or race

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 13:28 authored by Gabriella Allegretto, David Kendal, Emily FliesEmily Flies
The quantity of urban forests in cities is critical for biodiversity conservation and human health, and is known to be distributed unequally. Increasingly, the quality of urban forests are also being recognised as shaping the benefits they provide. Previous studies and reviews have demonstrated that the quality of urban green spaces is associated with patterns of inequality as measured by socio-economic status and race (in the U.S). This study extends this body of knowledge to urban forests by systematically reviewing the urban forest literature (that explicitly study the urban forest) exploring the relationship between urban forest quality and both socio-economic status and race. Two academic databases (SCOPUS and Web of Science) were systematically searched. A total of 2012 papers were screened and 21 articles were included in this study. Almost all studies (20/21) found evidence of inequality, with at least one significant association between measures of urban forest quality and socio-economic status or race. However, 6 studies found contrasting patterns, with lower socioeconomic status areas having higher urban forest quality. There was variation in the type of 'urban forest' studied, and variation in the ways both urban forest quality and socio-economic status were measured, making inter-study comparisons difficult. Interestingly, the literature was geographically diverse, and future research could continue to focus on countries in Africa, South America and Asia with diverse needs for and uses of urban forests. In conclusion, this review finds evidence for inequity in the distribution of urban forest quality. Future research that more clearly describes the urban forests being studied and that explores sociocultural variation in perceived quality would allow better generalisation and understanding of forest quality patterns.


Publication title

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening



Article number









School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Elsevier GmbH

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2022 Published by Elsevier GmbH.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Environmental ethics; Evaluation, allocation, and impacts of land use; Health inequalities