Vegetation cover within and around schools in Santiago de Chile: Are schools helping to mitigate urban vegetation inequalities?
Vegetation within cities is key for urban sustainability, as it provides several ecosystem services positively influencing the urban quality of life. However, urban vegetation is often unevenly distributed within cities, typically concentrating the large proportion of vegetated areas in more affluent neighborhoods. Thus, developing strategies for reducing urban vegetation inequalities is fundamental to fostering more sustainable cities. Since schools are widely distributed in urban areas, they could be key for decreasing vegetation inequalities, in particular, if schools' precincts in lower-income areas are managed to contain high levels of vegetation. Nevertheless, studies analyzing the potential role of schools in ameliorating vegetation inequalities in cities are largely missing in the literature. In this study we use remote sensing techniques to estimate the vegetation cover of 1579 schools and their surrounding areas in Santiago-Chile, aiming to evaluate whether vegetation within schools is helping to mitigate the high levels of vegetation inequalities characteristic of this city. We performed the analysis for public, subsidized and private schools, for the whole city and each of the 34 municipalities comprising the city. Our results show that schools are not helping to mitigate vegetation inequalities, but they tend to replicate the unequal distribution of vegetation within Santiago. This pattern holds whether the analysis is made for all schools or each of the three school types independently, and is also a prevalent pattern when the assessment is performed at the municipal level. Private schools, usually located in greener more affluent areas of the city, have significant larger proportion of vegetation, revealing that high-income students do not only live in greener neighborhoods but also have access to greener schools. These results reveal how deeply rooted in some cities are vegetation inequalities, and the urgency of modifying public policies related to how vegetation within schools is funded, planned and managed.
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|Vegetation cover within and around schools in Santiago de Chile: Are schools helping to mitigate urban vegetation inequalities?
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|URBAN FORESTRY URBAN GREENING
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