Many of Melbourne’s 70,000 trees are approaching the end of their useful life due to a combination of age and the combined stresses of extended drought, extreme heat and water restrictions.
To encourage species diversity, provide a canopy cover for the city – a cost-effective way to reduce heat – and do its bit to combat the greenhouse effect (and, let’s face it, make Melbourne look even lovelier), the City of Melbourne government launched Melbourne Urban Forest Visual – a web-based map that gave every tree in the city an individual ID, as well as noting the species and probable life expectancy. The mapping site invited residents to report dying, damaged or vandalised trees so that they could be repaired or replaced. The campaign proved successful way beyond the city limits, as people began to email the trees with love letters from all over the world.
The media campaign is part of an ongoing project to get Melbourne residents to “own” their urban forest, involving workshops, data-gathering and advocacy training.
Chris Moss has been writing on travel, tech, sex, food, art and books for nearly two decades. He co-founded street paper Hecho en Buenos Aires, writes regularly for the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers, and is now writing a thriller set in Andalusia.
Yvonne Lynch, Team Leader, Future Melbourne