As populations and the total area of impervious surfaces continue to grow in cities, city planners and policymakers must consider how local ecological resources can be utilized to meet the needs and develop climate-resilient and sustainable cities. Urban green spaces (UGS) have been identified as critical resources in improving the climate resiliency of cities and the quality of life for residents through the urban ecosystem services (UES) that they provide. However, certain communities within cities do not have uniform access to these UGS, and this may be due to historical legacies (i.e. redlining) and/or contemporary practices (i.e. urban planning). Therefore, I sought to determine if the supply of UES throughout the city of Rochester, NY is inequitably distributed. I assessed this potential inequality using geospatial analysis and literature-based coefficients to measure ecosystem services. Coincidingly, I assessed the distribution of socioeconomic status (SES), including contemporary demographic information and historic HOLC scores throughout the city. By looking at these two sets of data together, I considered the social-ecological conditions and spatial patterns throughout the city to determine if the supply of UES is correlated with SES distribution. Through linear regression models, I found that there are statistically significant positive and negative correlations between the production of UES and several SES indicators in block groups throughout the city. Furthermore, clusters of block groups with a significantly high level of social need for urban greening projects and a low production of UES were found primarily in the city’s downtown area and the neighborhoods directly surrounding it. Additionally, by conducting a content analysis on documents published by the city government, I identified that the city is most aware of the UES agricultural provision, hydrological and water flow regulation, and physical and experiential interactions. Combined together, all of this information provides a useful framework for city planners and policymakers to identify where UGS development needs to be prioritized as well as how the supply of UES in the city is inequitably distributed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ecosystem services--Research--New York (State)--Rochester; Ecosystem services--Social aspects; Neighborhoods--New York (State)--Rochester--Social conditions; Neighborhoods--Economic aspects--New York (State)--Rochester

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Environmental Science (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences (COS)


Kaitlin Stack Whitney

Advisor/Committee Member

Karl Korfmacher

Advisor/Committee Member

Richard Newman


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes