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Cambridge Canopy Project

Image: Montage of trees in Cambridge, with the Cambridge Canopy Project logo

The Cambridge Canopy Project is our pilot project for the Interreg 2 Seas Nature Smart Cities across the 2 Seas project.

The project aims to increase tree canopy cover in the city, which will help the city adapt to climate change.

Tree canopy cover is the name given to the layer of leaves and branches that cover the ground. It is measured as a percentage of the total area.

Forest Research reports the average tree canopy cover figure is 16% in England. Cambridge currently has 17% tree canopy cover. We are working to increase this to 19%, which will need more than 800,000m2 of new tree cover.

The project will:

  • Develop standard approaches to tree planting, protection, and management, and to public engagement. This will complement and enhance our current arboricultural strategy.
  • Develop tools to help us assess tree canopy cover, to support sustainable management and identify areas that need work.
  • Contribute to and boost tree planting and tree protection, to help mitigate the projected impacts brought about by climate change.

The project also aims to show the value of investing in the urban forest as a form of green infrastructure.

It will help the city adapt to climate change. It will do this by increasing tree canopy cover and contributing to the sustainable management of the local urban forest.

Watch a short video about the Cambridge Canopy Project and how you can get involved. It was developed and featured as part of the Big Weekend at Home 2020.

Project achievements

In 2019/20 we planted 500 trees around the city. We planted 89 varieties of 75 species, including Freeman maple, honey locust, silver lime, Japanese crab apple and grey alder.

We have increased the number of trees given away each year through our free trees for babies scheme. In 2019/20 we gave away 350 trees.

We and our partners launched a study to quantify the benefits trees bring to the local ecosystem. Find out more about the i-Tree Eco project.

Get involved

We want you to be an active participant in this project to help manage and care for Cambridge’s urban forest.

If you have 10 minutes to spare, please respond to our residents’ survey to help us better understand what you think of trees in gardens.

We have developed some resources to help you explore our urban forest:

Our call to action [PDF, 1.5MB] explains how you can help us increase tree canopy cover in Cambridge.

The Charter for Trees, Woods and People sets out 10 principles for a society in which people and trees can stand together. We have pledged to uphold these principles through our activities, policies, and influence. They align with our desire to make Cambridge a greener city and address the climate and biodiversity emergencies we face.

The Cambridge Canopy Project celebrates this commitment, and seeks to champion it through our activities and outreach. We encourage you to sign the tree charter to show your commitment to trees in Cambridge and beyond.

The last Saturday of November each year is celebrated as Tree Charter Day, and it marks the start of National Tree Week. This year we are collaborating with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination and local artist Hilary Cox Condron to celebrate the day by creating a gallery of pop-up ‘Forests of Imagination’.

Get involved and share your short story about your connection to trees on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtags #camtrees and #treecharter.”

The importance of neighbourhood trees for quality of life

This paper assesses the relationships between tree cover and social and wellbeing benefits at a neighbourhood level. It also assesses whether property buyers value the tree cover near their property and are willing to pay more for more tree cover.

The findings show that future policy should engage different local groups in their tree interventions. At the same time, more research is needed into the specific pathways by which tree cover influences human wellbeing in urban spaces.