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Cambridge recognized as Tree City of the World for the second year in a row

City joins 15 other Canadian cities with this distinction

In 2021, Cambridge was designated as a Tree City of the World by the United Nations and the Arbor Day Foundation.

This week, the city's status as one of the top Canadian cities for maintaining its tree canopy was renewed. 

“We just got confirmation today that we are still a tree city of the world,” said Yogesh Shah, deputy city manager for the city’s infrastructure services department.

Cambridge joins seven Ontario municipalities, 15 Canadian cities, and 120 cities from over 20 countries as a place that is focused on building and maintaining its tree canopy. 

In the most recent study, the city’s tree canopy dropped from 27 per cent during the last assessment to 25 per cent in 2018.

This is a step back from their goal to reach 30 per cent, but the Shah emphasizes the city has a 20-year urban forest plan that will result in thousands of trees being planted to help Cambridge reach its goal. 

“We were back to 25 per cent of our tree canopy, during this last COVID year we are able to reassess our tree canopy and are awaiting the numbers,” said Shah. 

To help maintain the current canopy and to reach their goal of 30 per cent, the city discourages property owners from removing trees. 

Shah said the city's bylaw around tree removal requires property owners to plant replacement trees for any tree they remove with a trunk diameter of 20 centimetres or more.

"If it’s more than 71 centimetres, they have to plant four,” he said. “If they fail to do this, they will have to pay a fee to the city and count it as a lost tree.”

All of the money collected from these fees are put back into the budget to help the forestry department care for and maintain the urban forests.

In 2022, the forestry budget is set at $1.6 million.

The other way Cambridge is helping preserve and improve the tree canopy in the city is through its ‘backyard tree program.’

This program will offer subsidized trees to homeowners so they can affordably plant saplings on their property.

According to the city's website, “homeowners pay the subsidized price of approximately $150 – $220/per tree depending upon the tree(s) chosen. That price includes the cost of the tree, a personalized consultation, delivery and a full planting, along with a long-term care guide.” 

Another requirement the city needs to plan for to be considered as a Tree City of the World is to host some sort of celebration.

Shah did not provide details but confirmed Cambridge will be holding an event closer to Arbor Day on April 29. 

Trees are a very integral part to the health of our community, Shah said. Urban forests provide shade during hot days and are "carbon sinks," helping to reduce the amount of air pollution and smog in a city.

Cambridge is making sure that urban forests and tree preservation is a priority in our community. 

“I think the tree is very valuable and important for helping to preserve our community," he added. "To receive this award is a show of our ongoing commitment to urban forests. Our commitment is to maintain a sustainable environment.” 

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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