The Białowieża Forest, one of the last and largest primeval forests in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, prides itself on impressive biodiversity. Although it stretches for over 3000 square kilometers on both sides of the border between Poland and Belarus, one can definitely say that here nature has no borders.
Sadly, this fairytale-like land did not impress the Polish authorities, who have repeatedly tried to exploit the forest. Just recently, Jan Szyszko, the environment minister, was dismissed because he encouraged extensive logging while he argued that this is an essential action to combat an infestation of the bark beetle.
Without environmentalists’ efforts to protect it, the forest has had a gloomy future. The only place where one will be able to admire its best-kept secrets is online, as a part of the Minecraft computer game. At least, this is the worst-case scenario that Greenpeace Poland wants to avoid.
In order to prevent this from happening, but also to make young people respect the nature and learn the importance of preservation, the NGO joined hands with Ogilvy & Mather Poland and Danish company GeoBoxers and initiated an eco-friendly campaign which aims to help the forest survive so that the future generations can admire it.
This week’s #ThrowBrandThursday presents “To The Last Tree Standing,” an ambitious project that actually functions a digital backup of the forest. The campaign’s main focus turns to a 1:1 Minecraft map of the woodland, an outstanding virtual replica of the Białowieża Forest that mirrors circa 700 square kilometers of natural beauty that stretches on the Polish territory. Built from 50 billion blocks and with a ‘weight’ of 18 gigabytes, the virtual model contains around 6 to 7 million trees which oversee rivers, streams, flowers, and animals, all placed exactly as they are in real life.
It took the specialists at GeoBoxerss almost 6 weeks to build up the impressive digital kingdom: “The creation of the Bialowieza forest in Minecraft has been a challenging and very rewarding task for us,” said Nynne Sole Dalå, the founder of Geoboxers. “We had to combine our automatic algorithms with a lot of hours for the manual building of trees and landmarks. The resulting Minecraft forest contains coniferous and deciduous forest, swamps, meadows, river, and lakes – and we think that the Bialowieza in Minecraft captures the magnificence of the real version of the forest rather well,” he added.
The Minecraft version of the forest went live on 27th June 2017, but as of 17th January 2018, the map can no longer be accessed online. Still, you can download it and roam free in the digital woodland as much as you like.
The campaign was promoted by a two-minute video clip with images from the game. To give it a more dramatic undertone, the Warsaw-based agency invited Krystyna Czubówna, Poland’s most famous presenter for nature films, to narrate the story. The docu-style video was published both in Polish and in English.
The initiative was a real success among young people, especially thanks to some popular Polish streamers who played live on the interactive map. “We have created a safe space for young people to educate themselves and exchange knowledge without getting confrontational. It’s the third week of holidays in Poland now, and we see thousands of youths voluntarily learning the Białowieża Forest at home, thanks to our campaign” explained Tytus Klepacz and Maciej Twardowski, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather Poland.
Moreover, the campaign included a half-an-hour-long documentary that highlights the logging situation in the forest, an exhibition that displayed photos of the woodland in Minecraft shot by 12 famous Polish photographers, and also a series of other short videos made for promotional purposes.
“With educational campaigns like this – I don’t want to sound like we’ve changed the world – but we have helped a little bit. If there were more campaigns like this, more people would be aware of how serious it is, and how these issues are often stripped down to the most basic political weaponry,” added Wojtek Kowalik, Senior Copywriter at the agency. Looks like Minecraft could be used to help in real life too! Let us know what you think in the comments.
Client: Greenpeace Poland
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Poland