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How systemic racism shaped the ecosystems of U.S. cities

Urban planning has transformed the ecosystems of U.S. cities, determining which communities are located next to parks—and which are next to polluting factories. Higher income neighborhoods typically reap the benefits of such planning: Study after study has shown they have a greater biodiversity of birds and tree cover. But income isn’t the only great divider. Sometimes, the racial makeup of a community is even better at predicting ecological outcomes, according to a review published in Science last month. The impact of racial segregation and housing discrimination on urban ecosystems in the United States has made these communities hotter and more vulnerable to pest species, such as rats. Scientists say incorporating justice, equity, and inclusion into conservation practices will improve public and environmental health.