This article was published on September 13, 2012

How Social Media & Gaming is Helping Reforest Patagonia

How Social Media & Gaming is Helping Reforest Patagonia
Anna Heim
Story by

Anna Heim

Anna Heim is the founder of MonoLibre and a freelance writer for various tech and startup publications. She is a polyglot French news junkie Anna Heim is the founder of MonoLibre and a freelance writer for various tech and startup publications. She is a polyglot French news junkie with a love for technology.

Reforest Patagonia has managed to plant 100,000 native-species trees thanks to its creative social media donation campaign, “Create Your Own Forest.” That’s not all – the Chilean organization now plans to reach the goal of 1 million trees before the end of the year. So what is it about and how does it work?

As you may know, the South American region of Patagonia is famous for its beautiful landscapes, and was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. Yet, nearly 7.5 million acres of native forest have been destroyed by fires and human intervention over the past 100 years, Reforest Patagonia says. Only this year, a massive wildfire destroyed more than 42,000 acres in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.

This inspired the creation of Reforest Patagonia, a non-profit public-private partnership to replant trees all across the region, from Torres del Paine Laguna San Rafael National Parks to Lago Carlota and Cerro Castillo National Reserves.

While this is undoubtedly a noble and ambitious goal, the most interesting aspect from our perspective is how Reforest Patagonia has been leveraging social media, gamification and technology to make its campaign a success.

Create Your Own Forest

Reforest Patagonia’s main campaigning tool is its online platform, i.e. its virtual forest, which lets individuals and companies plant trees in Patagonia thanks to a small contribution.

To get started, you have to click on one of the burnt trees. You can then connect with your Facebook account or sign up to use the platform. The social side is very important here – this is how Reforest Patagonia hopes to spread the word about its activities and get people involved.

The next step lets you choose how many trees you want to plant – either on your own behalf or for a friend. You can also use a gift coupon, which you may have received from a company.

As a matter of fact, the platform targets both individuals and companies. These can contribute trees in honor of clients or employees, who will receive unique codes that allow them to plant their own trees via the platform. Companies who have already joined include Coca-Cola, Land Rover and Groupon, Reforest Patagonia notes.

The next step lets you choose your payment method among multiple options; each tree only costs 4 dollars.

You will then receive a “reforestation certificate.” While its main purpose is to make you feel good about your contribution, it also contains coordinates. If you click on a link, Google Maps will display the location of your trees. “Thanks to GPS geotagging and advanced mapping tools, we provide the exact coordinates of where each tree will be planted,” Reforest Patagonia promises.

Interestingly, it doesn’t stop here, as your friends will be able to see “your” tree on the platform by clicking on that particular tree. According to Reforest Patagonia’s Executive Director, Matias Rivera, this feature has given the campaign a boost:

“The “Create Your Own Forest” feature allows groups and organizations, from families to schools to large corporations, to attribute trees to their own forests and subsequently watch them grow. It has a particular gaming aspect in that forests created by groups in similar categories can compete amongst one another to see who can obtain the highest number of trees. We’ve really seen this feature grow in popularity since we rolled it out about one month ago.”

This is also a plus for companies that contribute to the campaign, as they will get some visibility about their donation.

As you can see, Reforest Patagonia is a good example of how to use social media, gaming features and technology to bring the best in people and companies.

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