ARU supports launch of Cambridge tree survey

Published: 7 May 2020 at 16:39

Trees in Cambridge

New citizen science project will help identify the benefits of city’s urban forest

Experts from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) are working in partnership with Cambridge City Council, Treeconomics and Forest Research to carry out the i-Tree Eco survey – a new citizen science project to identify the benefits provided by the city’s trees.

Cambridge has over 300,000 trees, which have a positive impact on the city’s environment benefiting residents, visitors and wildlife.  The i-Tree Eco survey will help describe and quantify these benefits, enabling better management of the trees and support future investment in the city’s urban forest.

A similar project carried out in London discovered that trees within the area of Ealing Borough Council provided benefits to a value of £1.6 million per year. It was found they help to reduce flood risk, improve air quality, store carbon, boost biodiversity and enhance health and wellbeing.

The i-Tree suite of tools were developed by the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and have been adapted for use in the UK.  The Cambridge study was initially going to involve 20 students from ARU’s School of Life Sciences carrying out the surveys across the city. 

Due to COVID-19, the i-Tree Eco survey will now go ahead as a collaborative and innovative citizen science project, with the organisers hoping to engage at least 135 Cambridge households.  Participants will be sent guides to help them determine the type and size of trees and other vegetation in their own gardens. 

Staff and student volunteers from ARU will be involved in additional surveying work once social distancing restrictions have been lifted.  

Dr Julia Mackenzie, from ARU’s School of Life Sciences, said:

“This is a wonderful opportunity for ARU’s students to gain practical field experience and put into practice different skills they have learnt during their degree.”


Councillor Katie Thornburrow, the Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces, said:

“I am pleased that the residents and students of Cambridge have this opportunity to participate collectively in a project that will help us to protect this wonderful green asset for the benefit of the whole community now and in the future.”


This i-Tree Eco survey is part of the Cambridge Canopy Project, a Council-led initiative which aims to help Cambridge prepare for the projected impacts brought about by climate change by protecting and enhancing the city’s urban forest.

Victoria Tait, from ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute, said:

“As global warming continues to cause temperatures to rise, particularly in built up areas, trees will become an ever more vital part of a city’s urban infrastructure.  We are delighted to be involved in such an exciting project that provides so many tangible benefits for the people who live, work, and study in Cambridge.”


To find out more about the i-Tree Eco project, visit or contact Matt Ling, Cambridge Canopy Project Lead, via [email protected] or 01223 458513.