Volunteers used a variety of tree species from The Woodland TrustLOUIS ASHWORTH/VARSITY

A team of ten volunteers completed their aim of planting 165 trees alongside the banks of the River Cam last Thursday (29/04).

The task was organised by the Cam Conservancy, which owns the towpath and allows the council to use and maintain the cycle path beside the river. The volunteers worked with trees supplied by The Woodland Trust and received assistance from Flamingos, a group affiliated with Extinction Rebellion. Tree surgeon Ben Hudson, who has tended to the area for 40 years, also collaborated on the project.

Tom Larnach, the Conservancy’s river manager, explained: “We allow the council to have a cycle path and in return they maintain the vegetation.” After clearing some overgrowing vegetation, they found there was a lot a lot of fungus around the trees, and disease had got into a lot of them, “and grubs… they’re rotting from the inside out, some of them you can push over with one hand.”

“Many of the Salix trees along the towpath, which make up the majority of mature trees, are coming to the end of their lives,” continued Larnach, “unfortunately in the past there has never been a program of staggered planting for the future to ensure a steady supply of mature trees.”

Larnach and Hudson had the idea of setting up the “fantastic” community group of volunteers to undertake the planting project after deciding “that at the end of the day there would be no trees left along the Cam.”

A variety of new species including common oak, wild cherry, grey willow, rowan, field maple and silver birch make up the 165 new trees.

A spokesperson for Flamingos asserted that the new varieties “will replace the trees lost over 40 years due to disease, danger and abuse. Trees help to keep the riverbank in good repair, encourage wildlife and biodiversity. They also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helding to reduce climate warming. A tree lasts for as long as 100 years.”

Cambridge City Council removes around 250 trees per year, targeting those which are either very old or pose a health and safety risk.

The City Council aims to plant more trees than it removes and concentrates on specific areas at a time, covering a ward once every three years.

Larnach praised the project for having “brought the local community together”, adding “it’s important for us all to leave a legacy so that future generations can enjoy being on or beside the river as we have been able to. We plan on another round of planting next year but are fairly constrained along the narrow strip of land that runs along the river so we will have to see how it goes.”