Minecraft Helped Save A Forest!

How Greenpeace Poland used our game to help the Białowieża Forest!

Thanks to PCGamesN and Adweek for bringing this story to our attention!

The Białowieża Forest, located in Poland and Belarus, is a beautiful primordial woodscape and Europe’s last lowland primeval forest and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sounds pretty great, right? I’m not even one of those things!

It was also, until very recently, the site of a large logging operation that endangered the entire forest. But some Very Clever People put an end to that, and to do so they used Minecraft. In a project they called To The Last Tree Standing.

Ogilvy, a Polish advertising agency, working with Greenpeace Poland, came up with this unique way of saving the forest. After scouring maps, satellite imagery and photos, Ogilvy created a blueprint that depicted the entirety of Białowieża Forest, and from there they pulled in Danish company GeoBoxers, famed for producing a 1:1 scale Minecraft replica of Denmark. Geoboxers went about building the forest, with every tree, every stream, every flower… everything. Exactly as it is, but in Minecraft!

They had successfully made a 1:1 scale digital backup of the forest. Which is great, but a digital Białowieża Forest isn’t going to have the ecosystem that the real one does, and it isn’t going to help take care of our planet.

Ah, but that’s where a whole host of other folks come in...

Twelve famous Polish landscape photographers took screenshots of the Białowieża Forest in Minecraft and displayed their work in a gallery. A documentary was made about the forest, but shot in the digital one, and Krystyną Czubówną - a famous Polish wildlife narrator - provided commentary.

Perhaps most importantly, though, they got the help of Gimper, a massively popular Polish streamer, who played Minecraft on the 19 gigabyte forest replica map live on Twitch. He loaded up a version of the forest where every one of those trees had been cut down - all except for one. And from there, it was his mission to find that last tree standing.

The contrast between the first version of the forest, the living version full of trees and atmosphere, and the second, barren version, is polarising. The teams hoped that this would show young people what their future could look like, if they chose not to intervene.

When Gimper did eventually find the last tree standing, he touched it, and in doing so brought all the trees back, returning the forest to its former glory. Thousands watched the stream and many more discovered the project through its various Minecraft-related ventures.

As such, The Last Tree Standing project has garnered an incredible amount of support, not just in Poland but across the world, and the logging in the Białowieża Forest has ceased.

You can read more about how the project was a success by clicking here to read this story on PCGamesN and clicking here to read this one on Adweek (their stories are how we found out about this amazing project in the first place - thanks guys!)

The To The Last Tree Standing team isn’t done just yet. They’re determined to protect these ancient plants and nurture the life that depends upon them, which means they’re still looking for help. If you want to learn more, or even download the Białowieża Forest in Minecraft, make sure to click here and head over to their website - and leave your axe at home!

Written By
Emily Richardson