The Bialowieza Forest,the Europe’s last remaining lowland natural forest, has been digitalised in form of a 1:1 scale custom Minecraft map, in a campaign by Greenpeace Poland aiming to educate young people about the value of this UNESCO protected forest and the importance of its preservation amid intensified logging. The campaign's main hub is ostatniedrzewo.pl (or English version: tothelasttree.com).
*Please note that our campaign and the Minecraft map we created is not an official Minecraft product*
Edit: as of 17th January 2018 the logging has been no longer taking place and the Polish Minister of Environment was sacked.
The logging problem
The Bialowieza Forest is being extensively logged in a quest to combat the presence of an insect called spruce bark beetle. This type of"active protection" became highly polarising as the vast majority of scientific world is strictly against interfering into the natural processes of the forest, thus not in favour of cutting down and removing dead trees. If the logging continues, the Bialowieza Forest’s UNESCO Natural Heritage Status might become jeopardised within a few years. On 5th July 2017 UNESCO has called for immediate cessation of logging activities in the Bialowieza Forest, however it's unlikely to make a real impact.
How to talk about a polarising subject without polarising the audience? The advertising agency behind the idea, Ogilvy & Mather Poland, believes that the solution is in education. "We have created a safe space for young people to educate themselves and exchange knowledge without getting confrontational. It's a third week of holidays in Poland now, and we see thousands of youths voluntarily learning the Bialowieza Forest at home, thanks to our campaign" say Tytus Klepacz and Maciej Twardowski, Executive Creative Directors of Ogilvy & Mather Poland. It's a rather well known fact that pretty much every conflict originates from lack of knowledge, lack of understanding of given subject. By educating young people about this globally unique piece nature, the agency believes it helps to lay a ground for a better future: "Those young people who now want to learn about the subject, in just a few years time will get to actively participate in adut life. If they learn - moreover by choosing to do so themselves - about protecting the nature now, maybe they will make better choices than we do?" adds Wojtek Kowalik, Senior Copywriter from the agency behind the project.
"To the last tree standing" - the campaign
The campaign rolled out on 27th June 2017 and lasted for 3 weeks. It consisted of the Minecraft map created specifically for the project, a 28 minutes long documentary about the current situation in the Bialowieza Forest, a group exhibition of 12 best Polish contemporary photographers and heavy support from Poland's most popular Youtube gaming celebrities. The campaign ended with a long-awaited live-event hosted on Twitch by Poland's most popular gamer, Gimper. After he logged in to begin streaming, Gimper and his fans (almost 10 000 watching live) were shocked to see we replaced the map with its dystopian version where every single tree but one was cut down leaving only 7 million stumps. The gamer was given a quest - to locate the last tree standing, the only tree remaining on the map - it took him over an hour to find the tree, and the map went back to normal. Each of the mentioned is described in details in separate sections of this press kit (menu in the top) including films, stills, images, quotations from the authors and full credits.