Friday, August 14, 2015

Feel Good Friday - Melbourne Urban Forest

We're starting this Feel Good Friday post with a trip down memory lane. If you're a fan of Dr. Suess, you'll remember his character the Lorax who speaks for the trees. Well in Melbourne, Australia, the trees have email addresses and they're speaking for themselves!

I learned about the Melbourne Urban Forest Visual from this Daily Good article by Adrienne LaFrance. Two years ago, the City of Melbourne gave an email address and ID numbers to the 70,000 trees they maintain so that people could report any problems with the trees. Here's why.

A quick read of the FAQ section of the City of Melbourne Urban Forest Precinct Plans provides the following information:

"Thirteen years of drought and water restrictions have now accelerated the severe decline of our trees. In addition, many of Melbourne's trees were planted at the same time, so they are now reaching the end of their life at the same time. Our research shows that we will lose 27% of our trees in the next 10 years and 44% within 20 years - that's almost 30,000 trees." In addition just three species (eucalyptus, planes and elms) account for 35% of all the trees, a lack of diversity that makes the tree population more vulnerable to future threats.

To combat this loss, the city has developed Melbourne Urban Forest strategies designed to:
  • increase canopy cover
  • increase urban forest diversity
  • improve vegetation health
  • improve soil moisture and water quality
  • improve urban ecology
  • inform and consult with the community
Citizens certainly have sent emails to the city to report problems with the trees as expected, but those emails have been far outnumbered by people sending love letters and other messages of support to the trees. Even better, the trees are writing back! Messages from the trees include educational emails about tree gender and comments on the Greek debt crisis. Not only are the trees wise (as I've always imagined trees to be) but they're also funny! You can read some example emails in the Daily Good article.

To send your own message to a tree in Melbourne, use and don't worry, if you select a tree from the visual map, the tree ID number will be automatically added to the subject line.

You can also show your love for the City of Melbourne by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter @cityofmelbourne.

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