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i-Tree Eco project

As part of our Cambridge Canopy project we’re working to quantify the benefits that trees bring to the local ecosystem.

Using a tool called i-Tree Eco, we’ll analyse how much carbon dioxide and pollution trees filter from the air. We’ll also measure how much they help us avoid carbon emissions and stormwater runoff, and more.

The system will then provide baseline data to help us plan and manage the city's urban forest.

We’re working on this project with Anglia Ruskin University, Forest Research, and Treeconomics.

The project aims to:

  • understand the structure of Cambridge’s urban forest, including composition, condition and diversity
  • calculate the urban forest's value to the environment and rank the importance of different species
  • promote the urban forest to everybody in Cambridge, emphasising the benefits it provides
  • engage and train volunteers in the data-collection fieldwork
  • determine the land-use types where more trees could be planted
  • conduct a risk analysis of the urban forest's susceptibility to pests and diseases

The original plan for the project was for a team of arborists and trained volunteer students to survey 200 locations around the city. We have had to revise this because of the coronavirus pandemic – the project now seeks to engage residents to help from the safety of their own property.

We sent a field guide [PDF, 4MB] to every household selected to take part, to explain more about the project and what we need them to do. Treeconomics have also provided a video guide.

A few other cities in the UK have undertaken similar projects, but ours is the first to use untrained volunteers to collect data. We hope our approach will help other cities to more easily undertake their own i-Tree Eco projects.

As part of our Cambridge Canopy project, this work is partly funded by the Interreg 2 Seas Programme 2014-2020. That programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, under subsidy contract 2S05-048.