Leaf letters: fan email for Melbourne's trees pours in from around the world
Wednesday 15 July 2015
Emails from overseas as part of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Visual project have urged English elms to savour the Ashes and warned a Chinese elm to ‘keep away from fire’
Trees in Melbourne have been receiving fan mail from around the world since the city council’s project to assign an email address to each one received worldwide publicity.
A recent article in the Atlantic Monthly is the latest to fuel the global response to the scheme, with some letter writers expressing their admiration, intense homesickness and making suggestions such as to “keep away from fire”.
The 70,000 trees are mapped in a project called Urban Forest Visual, with each tree assigned an identification number.
City of Melbourne councillor Arron Wood said their original intention was to help residents report tree vandalism or branches dropping – instead “people began sending emails professing their love for trees”.
Since launching in May 2013, the website has received more than 3,000 emails to individual trees. The emails have come from as far afield as Russia, Germany, the US, Britain, Hungary, Moldova, Singapore, Brazil, Denmark and Hong Kong.
Some of the trees’ fans have never set foot in the city:
Brush Box (ID 1039919) 14 July 2015
Hello, dear Tree.
I read about this wonderful project and suppose to write you from another side of Earth - Russia. I hope you have a good care and don’t sick. One day we will meet, may be.
Other writers have attempted to make contact with compatriots:
English Elm (ID 1032245) 14 July 2015
Are you and your fellow English Elms enjoying the Ashes series as much as we in England are, and are you giving the native Aussie trees some stick over their team’s performance?
And some have provided sage advice for their tree:
Chinese Elm (ID 1289990) 19 February 2015
My Name is Tina I’m from Germany. I like trees all over the world, you know. Let me tell you something about German trees. They live in huge woods and because it rains often in Germany they almost never suffer from draught. This might sound heavenly to you but believe me Germany is not heavenly in winter - it’s freezing cold and quite dark. I wish I could come and tell you more about them but Australia is damn far away from here.
Keep away from fire!
Sending you best wishes from Germany
The most popular tree is a 13m-tall golden wych elm (ID 1028612) on Punt Road estimated to be about 70 years old.
The tree has received seven emails to date, including this one on 30 January:
Hi tree on the corner of Punt Road and Alexandra Avenue and that little street that goes up the side,
How are you? How old are you?
I’ve always wondered about you ever since my slightly strange driving instructor (who always smelled like cat food and peppermints) told me you were his favourite tree.
I hope they don’t knock you down.
The project is part of a wider push to revitalise Melbourne’s greenery, with aims to double canopy cover from 20 to 40% by 2040. Wood believes this will cool the city’s summertime temperatures by 4C.
More than four in 10 of Melbourne’s trees will be lost over the next 20 years due to old age. Having planted 12,000 new trees in the past four years, the city is on track to replace those trees and increase canopy cover.
Wood is pleased with the project’s success. “We know that Melburnians are passionate about their trees, parks and gardens. We were surprised and delighted to find that many people all over the world feel the same way.”
To listen to a related story, go to: http://www.npr.org/2015/07/16/423434833/to-melbourneelm22-subject-my-dog-peed-on-you-today-body?sc=17&f