Writing to trees in Melbourne

Melbourne streetscape

The trees in Melbourne have fans all over the world, and thanks to a unique identification programme, people can now email their favourites.

The opportunity to communicate with trees is the result of an effort by local government leaders to raise awareness for protecting city-wide green spaces and vegetation. Officials created an interactive map that would allow visitors to see the state of the local trees – age, species and health status. If you’re travelling to Australia soon, check it out before you head to Melbourne.

"Many of these trees were in a severe state of decline and we were staring down the barrel of losing up to 50% of our beautiful tree population,” local councillor Arron Wood told the BBC.  “That would have fundamentally changed the way that Melbourne looked, the way it performed environmentally, the way people felt about it socially and even economically as well.”

Each tree was given a unique number and website users were given the chance to send messages about their health to the city. The email option was supposed to be a way for local residents to inform the city that the tree was in danger or in decline. But people went beyond just providing information. They began talking to the trees. In the last two years, as many as 3,000 emails have been sent to individual trees in the city from all over the country, and as far away as the UK, Germany and America.

"As I was leaving St Mary's College today I was struck, not by a branch, but by your radiant beauty. You must get these messages all the time. You're such an attractive tree," one email said. Wood said these types of messages are quite typical.

"People literally are talking to these trees as if they are people, telling them how much they love them, thanking them for protecting them against the sun," Wood said. "So there are some quite humorous ones but also some really heartfelt emails as well."

Image Credit: Xiquinho Silva (flickr.com)