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Tree data

Cambridge City Council’s tree officers collect data on its trees using Ezytreev™ tree management software as part of our routine inspections.

As a Council we are working toward making our data more open. The tree data on this page contains data that is commonly sought as part of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and other data that puts the city’s tree cover into a wider context.

Number of trees in Cambridge

It is difficult to know exactly how many trees there are in Cambridge at any one time and estimates vary depending on the techniques used to gather the information.

Number of trees in Cambridge
Date Number of trees Source Notes
2008 135,557 Proximitree™ All trees and shrubs over 1m
2013 238,512 ± 33,840 Sample plots All trees over 10cm in diameter (Dbh)
2018 335,884 Proximitree™ All trees and shrubs over 1.2m

Source: Analysis and interpretation of tree audit data for Cambridge City Council (ADAS, 2013) [PDF, 6.5MB].

10 most common types of tree in Cambridge

The data below is derived from our own tree inventory and randomised sample plot across the city as a whole, regardless of ownership.

Source: Analysis and interpretation of tree audit data for Cambridge City Council (ADAS, 2013) [PDF, 6.5MB].

Council parks and street trees

  • Cherry (Prunus): 14%
  • Maple (Acer): 12%
  • Lime (Tilia): 8%
  • Birch (Betula): 8%
  • Sorbus (Sorbus): 8%
  • Ash (Fraxinus): 6%
  • Apple (Malus): 4%
  • Thorn (Crateagus)
  • Willow (Salix): 3%
  • Horse chestnut (Aesculus): 2%

Cambridge city as a whole

  • Ash (Fraxinus): 22%
  • Cherry (Prunus): 15%
  • Lime (Tilia): 8%
  • Apple (Malus): 6%
  • Cupressus (Cupressus): 6%
  • Sorbus (Sorbus): 5%
  • Maple (Acer): 5%
  • Birch (Betula): 5%
  • Yew (Taxus): 4%
  • Poplar (Populus): 3%

Tree canopy cover

Tree canopy cover is the metric used to indicate the benefits provided by the urban forest, and is measured as a tree canopy cover percentage of the total area under review.

In 2008 tree canopy cover was measured at 17.1% by analysing Proximitree™ data. Ward measurements were:

  • Abbey: 12.9%
  • Arbury: 17.2%
  • Castle: 20.7%
  • Cherry Hinton: 12.8%
  • Coleridge: 14.4%
  • East Chesterton: 16.6%
  • King’s Hedges: 16.5%
  • Market: 14.8%
  • Newnham: 22.6%
  • Petersfield: 16.5%
  • Queen Edith’s: 17.9%
  • Romsey: 14.8%
  • Trumpington: 17.8%
  • West Chesterton: 17.7%

Source: Analysis and interpretation of tree audit data for Cambridge City Council (ADAS, 2013) [PDF, 6.5MB].

In 2016 the Forestry Commission measured the city’s tree canopy at around 19%, plus or minus 1.75% standard error, using i-Tree Canopy.

Source: The Canopy Cover of England’s Towns and Cities: Baselining and setting targets to improve human health and well-being (K Doick et al, 2017) – last accessed 21 May 2019.

The increase in tree canopy cover may be due to the differing methodologies used, or to the substantial urbanisation of the green belt in the south and west of the city since 2008.

A new Proximitree™ dataset for 2018 is currently being analysed as part of the Nature Smart Cities 2 Seas project and the canopy cover results are planned to be released by the end of the year.

Cambridge’s tree canopy cover compared with other districts

The amount of tree canopy cover depends on a number of different factors including population and built density, land use type, and age of primary development.

We have selected a list of four towns and cities of similar size, populations and land uses. Cambridge fairs pretty well in these comparisons.

Tree canopy comparison with other towns and cities
Dataset Cambridge Exeter Gloucester Ipswich Oxford
Area 40.70km2 47.04km2 40.54km2 39.42km2 45.59km2
Population 124,900 128,900 129,000 138,600 154,600
Population density 3,069/km2 2,740/km2 3,183/km2 3,505/km2 3,389/km2
Land use: Built on 58% 50% 66% 64% 53%
Land use: Green urban 17% 14% 17% 19% 14%
Land use: Farmland 26% 29% 15% 17% 31%
Land use: Natural 0% 7% 2% <1% 1%
Tree cover 19% ±1.75 (i-Tree Canopy); 17.1% (Proximitree) 18.8% ±1.75 (i-Tree Canopy); 23% (i-Tree Canopy) 13.6% ±1.75 (i-Tree Canopy) 11% ±1.75 (i-Tree Canopy) 16.6% ±-1.75 (i-Tree Canopy); 21.4% (i-Tree Canopy)

Sources:

Ownership of tree cover in Cambridge

The bulk of tree canopy cover in Cambridge is in private ownership. Most of this is in residential gardens which make up the largest single land use (around 39%):

Landowner Canopy cover Land area
Cambridge City Council 16.3% 13.5%
Highways 9.6% 9.5%
Private or other 74.1% 77%

Source: Analysis and interpretation of tree audit data for Cambridge City Council (ADAS, 2013) [PDF, 6.5MB].

Number of trees felled each year

The figures below relate to individual street and parks trees only. Figures are for the last 10 years. The data is recorded by our tree officers using Ezytreev™ tree management software. It should be treated as indicative as it does not show for example trees in groups or recently planted trees that have been removed within the first year of planting:

Number of trees felled
Year Trees felled
2009/10 203
2010/11 164
2011/12 96
2012/13 132
2013/14 234
2014/15 138
2015/16 211
2016/17 124
2017/18 153
2018/19 122

Number of trees planted each year in streets and parks

The figures below relate to planting ‘standard’ trees that are between 2.5 & 3.5m tall at planting, and planted in our streets and parks trees only.

The data is recorded by our tree officers using Ezytreev™ tree management software. In 2016 we approved a ring-fenced budget for tree planting that meant we can ensure no-net-loss to the Council’s tree population.

Trees planted
Year Trees planted
2013/14 80
2014/15 117
2015/16 96
2016/17 286
2017/18 284
2018/19 312

The Free Tree for Babies scheme

This has been running for over 30 years to incentivise tree planting in the city. In 2017 we approved a ring-fenced budget for the scheme of £5000. In 2018 we changed the way we delivered the scheme enabling us to nearly double the amount of trees could give away under the scheme.

Trees donated by the Free Trees for Babies scheme
Year Trees donated
2014/15 162
2015/16 231
2016/17 147
2017/18 170
2018/19 379

Ash decline in Cambridge

Ash trees have been estimated to make up around 22% of the total number of trees in Cambridge.

They are currently under threat from Ash Dieback Disease which is predicted to kill around 95% of all ash trees in the UK. Ash Dieback has been officially recorded as being present in the Cambridge area since 2014.

We have over 1400 individual ash recorded on our tree management database (excluding groups & woodlands). The following ash species where present in May 2018:

  • Fraxinus americana: 1.2%
  • Fraxinus angustifolia: 0.4%
  • Fraxinus excelsior: 77.4%
  • Fraxinus excelsior ‘Diversifolia’: 1.7%
  • Fraxinus excelsior ‘Jaspidea’: 1.1%
  • Fraxinus excelsior ‘Pendula’: 0.6%
  • Fraxinus excelsior cultivar: 0.1%
  • Fraxinus ornus: 6.5%
  • Fraxinus oxycarpa: 0.1%
  • Fraxinus oxycarpa ‘Raywood’: 6.7%
  • Fraxinus pennsylvanica: 0.2%
  • Fraxinus (not identified to species level): 4.0%

A randomised sample of 99 trees from this population was taken in 2017 and surveyed in September of that year. The aim is not aim to identify ash die back disease but to monitor ash condition as indicative of the spread and impact of the disease.

A follow up survey was undertaken in September 2018. A new survey is planned for this year. The survey measured the amount of defoliation, deadwood and regrowth present in each tree and the results are presented below.

The degree of defoliation from the norm is indicative of the degree of stress a tree is currently under.

Ash defoliation
Year Less than 1% 1 to 25% 25 to 50% 50 to 75% More than 75% No data
2017 42 35 7 2 1 12
2018 21 50 13 4 1 10

The amount of regrowth is both indicative of stress and the ability of a tree to respond to that stress:

Ash regrowth
Year Minimal Moderate Good Not applicable No data
2017 18 18 20 31 12
2018 23 31 19 12 14

The size of the deadwood is indicative of the overall impact that stress is causing the tree:

Ash deadwood
Year Less than 1cm 1 to 4cm 4 to 10cm More than 10cm No data
2017 44 34 8 1 12
2018 30 45 13 2 9

Number of TPOs served each year

The Council has served over 800 TPOs since 1955. The table below shows the numbers served over the last 10 years:

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) served
Year TPOS served
2009 15
2010 18
2011 34
2012 27
2013 35
2014 38
2015 20
2016 24
2017 33
2018 45

Number of tree work applications assessed each year

Applications and notifications of works to tree protected by TPO or that grow in conservation areas have to be submitted to the Council for assessment:

Tree-work applications assessed
Year Applications
2012 452
2013 445
2014 474
2015 589
2016 510
2017 547
2018 632

Number of High Hedges complaints received each year

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 local authorities must deal with disputes between neighbours regarding high hedges, where a complaint has been made under the Act.

Complaints received
Year Complaints
2009 0
2010 1
2011 0
2012 0
2013 0
2014 0
2015 0
2016 5
2017 0
2018 1