By BILAL AHMED SYED
Do you have a favourite tree in Melbourne? Have you ever thought about emailing to tell it you like it?
Melbourne City Council gave every tree in the city an email address, along with a unique code that details the tree’s species, location, and life expectancy.
Melbourne Urban Forest uses emails as a way to engage the public around the importance of trees in our daily lives, with the aim of spreading awareness about climate change, urban heating, and population growth.
So we emailed a tree in the city. And it responded.
This email system was introduced so people can report problems with the trees for the city council to take action and preserve the landscape.
I sent the below email to see how London Plane, Tree ID 1024921 feels – a large, lush tree I saw on the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets.
Hi, You look like you're doing well. You have a long way to go, what do you think of your fellow neighbouring trees who are getting extinct? Are they friendly to you?
One week later, the tree emailed me back with the below response:
Hi Bilal, I am thank you very much! My leaves are starting to come back to Spring and Summer! Most of my friends are actually doing OK too – it can be hard in the city with all the pollution, noise, and strange rubbish that builds up on me! But luckily most of the city folk love me and look after me! Your friend, London Plane, Tree ID 1024921
The emails are operated by the Melbourne City Council staff, who respond to all the messages sent to them.
Melbourne City Council manages nearly 80,000 trees valued at about $770 million in its council area.
According to Central City Urban Forest plan, the aim of this initiative is to improve and maintain the health for the population, cleanse the air and waters, stimulate economic activity in the retail and dining areas, to provide a better habitat for birds and pollinators, and to attract more people to live, work and visit Melbourne.
The tree listed as the most valuable tree in Melbourne is the Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla), located in Fawkner Park since at least 1888.
The City of Melbourne valued this tree at $1.7 million, which includes more than $200,000 in environmental value and more than $1.3 million in amenity value.
In May this year, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle announced $1.2 million of additional funding for the Urban Forest Project to increase tree coverage in the city and protect against excessive heat.