Would you email a tree? (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian/W. Meier/Corbis)
This is what happened when an Australian city gave trees email addresses
June 15, 2017
They provide shade and air to breathe. Not to mention an undeniable sense of grandeur. But would you ever write a letter to a tree?
Officials in Melbourne, Australia have discovered that for many, the answer is a resounding yes.
The Guardian's Oliver Milman reported that when they rolled out a program that assigned email addresses to trees. This was in a bid to help identify damage and issues. But what was discovered was that city residents preferred to write them love letters instead.
The city calls it "an unintended but positive consequence" of their attempt to help citizens track tree damage. On their urban forest data site, Melbourne assigned ID numbers and email addresses. They went to each of the city's trees. This made it easier to catch and rehabilitate damaged trees.
Then the emails began to arrive. Milman wrote that instead of damage reports, people wrote fan mail to trees. The writers complimented their looks and leaves. Some told tales of how they'd helped them survive during inclement weather. Some trees even wrote back.
The effort was part of a larger initiative. That was to protect Melbourne's 70,000 city-owned trees from drought and decline.
It turns out Melbournians have always been arboreal enthusiasts. The city council noted that in the 1880s, residents wrote begging for the planting of blue gum eucalyptus trees to "absorb bad gasses" emanating from a nearby manure depot.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What is the benefit of the trees writing back, and how do they do it?
Write your answers in the comments section below