But even where trees exist in the city, not everyone enjoys their benefits.
In several places, you are more likely to live close to a public park or on a street with more trees if you are rich. This affects how protected you are from warmer air and surface temperatures. Studies based in the United States show that racist housing policies have led to unequal outcomes in health and well-being. In low-income districts populated by ethnic minorities and the elderly, more Americans have died or suffered health problems from the lack of trees and other green amenities.
Is this a problem in Asia, too?
Wealthier cities such as Tokyo and Singapore, have rolled out grand plans to green their cities. They have innovative green instructure, mass tree-planting schemes, and winding green belts that connect nature to urban spaces. But even here, richer neighbourhoods still enjoy more access to trees and green spaces.
Consider Singapore—the darling of successful public housing. Many residents live in mixed-income public housing designed around neighbourhood parks and other green spaces. Visitors to the Garden City always notice how greenery weaves through the cityscape, leaving few to doubt whether trees are evenly distributed across the city-state.
However, mapping income against tree density in Singapore reveals that even here, higher-income areas, such as Bukit Timah and Queenstown, have many more trees per capita than lower-income neighbourhoods like Choa Chu Kang, Tampines, and Geylang.