The Cambridge Tree Trust is active in promoting the planting, and protection of trees and the beautification of the entrances to the Town.
The Waipa District Council supports the policy of a protected tree list to preserve, protect and enhance the character and visual quality of Cambridge.
- Some of the trees along Victoria Street were planted in 1880 and around the Town square in 1886.
- Dawn Redwood. This species, on the Dick Street side of the square, was believed to be extinct until rediscovered in China in 1948.
- Spanish Chestnut. (Recently removed)
- Japanese Momi fir planted in 1905 by Neville Souter. The largest known specimen in the North Island. Struck by lightning in 2016 and removed the following year.
- Box Elder behind the Masonic Hotel.
- On the Corner of Empire and Queen Streets were 12 English Oaks planted by Thomas Wells in 1881. The remaining 10 of these now grace Countdown's carpark.
- Railway reserve entrance Ginkgo Bilboa. Removed in 2017 by the developers of Lakewood.
- Camellia Grove planted 1962 and added to several times since.
- Te Koutu Entrance. Eucalyptus planted 1885 and Kauri planted in 1958. The eucalypts were removed for safety in 2013-2016.
- Japanese Maple. The sole remainder of several donated by early missionaries. Seedlings from this tree have been planted throughout town.
- The Evergreen Oak by the Large Rhododendron has been raised from the seed of a missionary tree.
- Pollard Holme Oak by the bowling club steps was planted in the early 1950's.
- Fan Palm near the band rotunda was planted in the early 1900's.
- Cedar of Lebanon by the Memorial gates.
- Italian Cypress in Saint Andrews Grounds grown from seeds bought from the garden of Gesthemane by Cynthia and Basil Hewett in 1956.
- Camellia 'Pillida' planted soon after the founding of Cambridge in 1864. Featured in Colonel Tom Durrant's 'Book of Camellias'
In 2002, an Arboriculture student, John Reid, identified 52 notable trees in and around Cambridge. The Waipa District Council has its own list, which includes most of John's, but adds those considered notable by its own arborists since 2002, and extends the area under consideration. The Tree Trust is checking both works to update them. We already know that some trees have been removed through death, disease or bad siting.
The soft, sandy pumice soil around Lake Te Ko Utu has proven unable to hold big trees. Several have fallen in recent winters. In 2013, the Waipa District Council started implementing a plan to remove them and replace them with more suitable species. One such collapse killed a dog and missed its owner by the length of the leash.
The second began with a report about the removal of phoenix palms from Tamihana Avenue in Matamata. The trees were removed at the request of the residents, apparently because the spines on their leaves can cause nasty infections, and the trees attract pigeons. Sadly however, when the residents were surveyed by council concerning replacements, a narrow majority of those who replied did not want any trees. Now there is an outcry from other residents who say they were not even consulted and they do want replacements.
We need to embrace urban trees; like the air we breathe, they are a commons. Yes, they can be inconvenient – they drop leaves and nuts, they sometimes obstruct views. However both for the mitigation of the heating affects of climate change, as well as for their ability to help reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution they are vital in our towns and cities. It is time our own council had a firm policy regarding green infrastructure in towns, both in gardens and streets. Meanwhile, most of us can at least plant a garden tree. The tree shown here in Vogel Street, but, sadly, recently removed, would have made a wonderful, cool place for children to play and parents to relax on a hot summer day.