Other Sustainability Information

In addition to initiatives to make buildings and vehicles more sustainable, the City addresses other issues including:

Urban Forestry

To understand the Cambridge urban forest as a system, the City has engaged the University of Vermont (UVM) Spatial Analysis Lab to assess the citywide tree canopy.  The UVM lab developed the protocol of the US Forest Service on how these assessments are performed.  The assessments utilize LiDAR data which is collected by aircraft equipped with laser-based technology.  The assessments measure the entire tree canopy of Cambridge including trees on public and private property.

The first Urban Forest Canopy Assessment was performed in 2012 using 2009 LiDAR data. That study found that Cambridge had a tree canopy covering 30 percent of the city in absolute percentage terms.  The second Urban Forest Canopy Assessment performed in 2017 using 2014 LiDAR data, the latest available, found the tree canopy at 28 percent in absolute percentage terms.  The change between 2009 and 2014 is a net change; some areas saw an increase and some a decrease, but the overall change was a decrease in canopy.  The 2017 study breaks down the data by neighborhood, land use type, and other categories.  Increases in tree canopy cover occur as trees are planted and grow.  Losses of tree canopy can be caused by storm damage, tree removal by property owners, mortality as trees get old, development, and disease and pests.

The City intends to conduct a third assessment in 2018 after a new set of LiDAR data is collected in the spring of 2018.  The assessment will probably commence next fall after the data is processed.

The Public Works Department is also planning to develop the City's first urban forest master plan, which will consider the Cambridge's urban forest as a system and consider strategies to maintain existing canopy and expand it.

Check out our map of the urban tree canopy here in Cambridge based on the 2012 assessment.