How Minecraft fixed a serious logging problem

April 19, 2018 by Zuza Ciszewska in Gaming Art


Last day of humanity on Earth will happen once the last tree falls down. Thus, we’re working towards our mutual immortality. You already know our modus operandi but to keep the image fresh, here’s the brief reminder: for every product you buy, we’re planting 10 trees. Because we care.

Białowieża Forest, located in Poland, is one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage landmarks and the last lowland primeval forest in general. It’s also a breathtaking place to visit if you ask me.

For some time Białowieża Forest was extensively logged to prevent the supposed threat – spreading of an insect called spruce bark beetle. That kind of “protection” sparkled a debate with highly polarizing opinions, as the overall activity would result in jeopardizing the whole forest.

UNESCO decided to take action and partnered with Greenpeace Poland and Ogilvy in order to educate and spread the knowledge about Białowieża’s heritage in a truly epic way. To protect one of the most famous Polish heritage sites that dates back way before Medieval times, they did what they do best – took a digital approach with the same goal in mind – save the forest. They created a backup of Białowieża Forest. Using Minecraft. Fot it to last forever. Offline and online.

The team gathered maps, satellite images and photos of almost 435 square miles, created a blueprint depicting the whole Forest and asked GeoBoxers to rebuild Białowieża Forest 1:1 in Minecraft. Their care for detail is stunning as GeoBoxers went to great lengths to recreate the placement of every single type of tree, every stream, or flower. Basically, they did a backup of the real thing. 

The campaign is called “To the Last Tree Standing”. But that’s not all.

Twelve famous Polish landscape photographers participated in the project by taking screenshots from the Minecraft map and displayed them in a gallery. Additionally, a 28-minute documentary was created, detailing the current state of the Białowieża Forest.

When the Minecraft Białowieża map became a hit, Gimper, a massively popular polish streamer, drove the Last Tree Standing campaign home with his Twitch stream. With a twist that was replacing the map with an alternate version where all 7 million trees – except one – had been cut down, he then embarked on a quest to find the titular Last Tree Standing.
It is sufficient to say the contrast between first, full of green and life version and the second, barren and stark one was shattering. Eventually, Gimper found the last standing tree and by touching it, he replenished the Białowieża Forest with its former glory. 

Thousands watched the stream and exposed the project on social media platforms and Minecraft-related sites,what eventually resulted in much deserved hype and support, not just in Poland but across the world.

Their actions were heard loud and clear and the logging in the Białowieża Forest has ceased. Yeah.

Saying we’re proud is like saying nothing at all. Trees are our common good. Without them, we cease to exist. Keep that in mind and consider making a backup so we will live forever.

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