Urban landscape as mirror of ethnicity: Trees of the South Plains

Cynthia L. Sorrensen, Perry L. Carter, Jack Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The literatures on urban forestry, environmental justice, and Marxist urban political ecology are considered through empirical attention to the localized racial and ethnic politics which spatially differentiate urban socio-natural landscapes. In the American Southwest, urban landscapes reflect a history in which Anglo Whites were able to distance themselves from spaces of production while gaining access to superior residences and environmental amenities in spaces of reproduction; ethnoracially marginalized Others were treated as necessary yet disfavored populations, thus constituting a segregated mode of production. In this study, we investigate the association between tree canopy cover and the location of urban ethnic minority populations with a focus on the arid Southern High Plains city of Lubbock, Texas. Using data from color infrared aerial photography and block-group demographic indicators from the 2010 US Census, we analyze the citys arboreal landscape with a mix of methods-hierarchical regression, archival research, and field observation. Results confirm that a lack of tree cover in minority neighborhoods is a symptom of broader environmental inequalities in which contemporary segregation patterns reflect a history of residential and land-use zoning with the socio-natural relations of planting and sustaining urban trees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1063
Number of pages22
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 3 2015


  • environmental justice
  • racial segregation
  • urban forestry


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