Melbourne local baffled by addition to trees - so do you know what they're for?

The tree 'wraps' are a common sight in parks across Melbourne's CBD.

A stumped Melbourne local who came across several trees with "wraps" around them has gone in search for answers surrounding the unusual sight.

After walking by the trees in the City of Melbourne council area and noticing the metal sheets, they were left wondering "what are they for?".

"Saw these near the museum," they asked on Reddit, sharing a photo taken in Carlton Gardens.

A photo of a park in the Melbourne CBD with metal sheets wrapped around the trees.
A Melbourne local who spotted trees wrapped in metal sheets in the CBD has questioned what they're for. Source: Reddit

Social media users brainstorm reason

The post garnered many comments, with some deciding to not take the matter too seriously.

"Keeps the trees warm in winter," one person joked. "Modesty," another said.

However several correctly identified the metal sheets — also known as tree baffles — commonly seen in the Melbourne CBD and which are used to keep possums from climbing up and damaging trees.

"They can kill trees by overgrazing," one person said. "A few possums here and there is typically not an issue, but sometimes overpopulation can become a real problem for trees".

"They climb on the trunk and branches of trees and graze on the foliage and fruits, compromising the trees’ health and appearance," another said.

"Possums aren't paying rent. The early signs of eviction," a third person joked. However the topic of "eviction" was a real concern for several people, who thought that kicking possums out from trees was displacing them.

Two photos of possums.
Possums are having to find ways to adapt in urban environments, with some species considered critically endangered due to displacement. Source: FAWNA/Getty

"There is a real problem with the lack of trees in the landscape," one person commented. "That's why a lot of mature trees are protected by the council."

Animal rescue body criticises tree baffles

Wildlife Victoria's CEO Lisa Palma told Yahoo News Australia such programs could force possums out of their natural habitats and into man-made structures.

"Removing access to trees will have a detrimental impact on the wildlife that rely on them for food and shelter. Possums make their homes in trees, but if they can't reach them, they'll be displaced and forced to seek shelter elsewhere, including buildings and roofs," she said.

"We are incredibly lucky to live alongside our native wildlife and rather than restricting their access to the vital resources they need, we should be encouraging them and providing places for them to survive and thrive."

Ms Palma encouraged residents to plant new trees to ensure wildlife had sufficient habitat to live in.

Yahoo has contacted City of Melbourne Council for comment.

Possums are a protected in Australia

In Australia, Ringtail and Brushtail possums are a familiar sight, with both species having to adapt to urban environments — often seen foraging in gardens, sheds and in the ceilings of houses and buildings.

"The high number of Common Brushtail possums in many urban municipal parks and gardens in Melbourne and some large regional centres can cause significant damage to ornamental plants," Wildlife Victoria says on their website.

"But people and possums can live together successfully."

If you see an injured possum, contact your local council or wildlife rescuer.

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