Urban Micro-forests for Cambridge


Committee: Environment

Cost: $85,000

Location: To be determined by city staff

Short Description: 

Pockets of unique trees, densely planted at select locations throughout the city, will beautify, educate, and help combat climate change. Approximately 50 trees will be planted with educational signage, bringing the forest into Cambridge.

Long Description:

A dense urban city like Cambridge needs room to breathe, and our street trees do immense work creating a healthier and more attractive place to live. Urban trees absorb twice as much carbon dioxide and provide vital health benefits for people and critters alike. No wonder, then, that trees are in high demand, a commonly requested participatory budgeting project. Our proposal gathers these many requests for individual trees into micro-forests to be planted with approximately 50 trees on city-owned land.

Climate change is expected to increase flooding from storms and to increase temperatures to dangerous levels in the city. The forests can help regulate these effects by infiltrating water and providing shading to reduce temperatures. The micro-forests will add to the city’s urban forest planning efforts, increasing the planting target by about 8%. In line with that plan, the micro-forests will be planted with diverse and resilient species to increase biodiversity in the city and to make sure the forests are healthy and long-lasting. The following list includes those native species for the city to consider planting:

  • Tulip
  • Dogwood
  • Dawn Redwood
  • Ginko
  • Himalayan Birch
  • Grey Birch
  • River Birch
  • White and Red Pine
  • Poplars of any kind

Educational signage will be placed near each kind of tree that will indicate its name, why it has been chosen for this location and how to maintain and protect it. The sign will also provide fun facts about it (e.g. Did you know the Tulip trees wait at least 15 years to produce their first blossoms and then can continue flowering for several hundred years?).

Figure 1. The UK's first micro-forest, planted in Oxfordshire

Showing 6 reactions

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  • Steve B
    commented 2023-10-03 15:31:01 -0400
    I think every university should have gardens for students to study in. A great way to make this project more affordable though is to focus on the microforests’ drainage systems. Creating fountains that look nice and also provide water for the forests if built correctly can be super efficient so that all you need is the campus landscapers to trim the bushes every month. If you want a great example of microforests on a school campus check out the University of Victoria and read on drain repair at https://www.raintek.ca/exterior-waterproofing/perimeter-drain-repair-replacement because Victoria is one of the greenest cities in the world and so their drainage companies know how to make wonderful landscapes.

    #microforests #drainage #cambridge
  • Amy Meltzer
    commented 2021-05-05 08:39:34 -0400
    Here is a list of hardy native New England trees. There are many more lists! Please only plant natives for maximum ecological benefit.
  • Grace Pan
    commented 2021-05-04 10:31:28 -0400
    This is a wonderful proposal except many of the suggested trees are non-native species. In the interest of fostering native New England avian, insect, and plant biodiversity, I would strongly encourage removing Dawn Redwood, Gingko, and Himalayan Birch from the list. How about Black Cherry, White Spruce, native Oaks, White Ash, etc? The City of Cambridge would be well-suited to turn this participatory budgeting proposal into an opportunity to promote local New England biodiversity and conservation.
  • Amy Meltzer
    commented 2021-01-14 11:06:09 -0500
    Several on the trees in this list are not native and will not support biodiversity. There are many resilient native trees that can do well in urban environments and the trees for this project should be chosen from that list. We are facing a biodiversity crisis as well as a climate crisis and planting native trees provide benefits on both counts. This is a great opportunity to support the threatened species in our local ecosystem.
  • Tori Antonino
    commented 2021-01-08 13:50:47 -0500
    Please plant indigenous species. No redwood, gingko or himalayan birch. Suggestions are ’Swamp white oak, American Linden, Magnolia virginiana, pussy willow, native poplars, musclewood, hackberry, service berry, black tupelo, hop hornbeam, pitch pine and ilex opaca) Our pollinator (insects and birds) populations are being decimated. Our cities are a bastion of hope to allow safe harbor and migration. Insect pollinators can only reproduce on indigenous plants. Baby birds eat caterpillars and insects, not seeds. Our health, the health of the birds and other wildlife depend on the health and numbers of our pollinators. We achieve this by planting native plant species. -Tori Antonino
  • Budget Intern
    published this page in PB Cycle 7 2020-12-23 13:06:12 -0500