Become a Forest Hero with Greenpeace

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Feature story - December 20, 2012
Digital and social media networks have become powerful tools to create awareness and get people to participate in social issues. This is exactly what Greenpeace India is trying to achieve with its latest Facebook application called the ‘Forest Hero’.

The application is a personalised video that engages with the user, giving them a taste of what it feels like to protect trees and save forests. See how it works here:

The application calls on individuals to become protectors of the forests not by performing some supernatural deed but by the simple act of sharing the message with their friends. The short film in the application tells the story of one individual who saves a tree from being chopped down in a village. The user can give the application access to their Facebook account or upload a picture to the app. This image is then integrated within the video and it appears in different parts of the film presenting the user as a forest hero! The video can then be shared on social media. The message behind the video is that anybody can become a defender of our forests by taking small, simple steps.

20 December 2012

In October, Greenpeace India’s Facebook page was rated second in the country for user engagement by Social Bakers, surpassing even the top Indian corporate brands. For an NGO funded only by individual donors in India this is quite an exciting achievement. Through the new application Greenpeace is seeking to engage further with their supporters while also giving them a chance to share a more personal message with their friends.

Greenpeace India activist, Brikesh Singh, says, “The application creates awareness about deforestation from coal mining in a fun way while also engaging with the user on a more personal level. We hope the larger message stays with the audience that our forests need heroes now more than ever.”

A recent Greenpeace India study has determined that coal mining in just 13 coalfields in Central India threatens over 1.1 million hectares of forest- that’s almost twice the area of India's top five metros combined! There are over 40 coalfields in Central India and more coal blocks are being lined up for auction, so the area of forest that stands to be destroyed is phenomenal. The endangered tiger, other wildlife and lakhs of forest dwellers are threatened by the mining.

Greenpeace India’s Junglistan campaign to save forests in Central India began in July with a petition asking the Prime Minister to put an end to coal mining in forests. Over 9,00,000 people have signed the petition till date. In September, Brikesh Singh lived on a tree in a forest threatened by coal mining close to the Tadoba Tiger Reserve to bring people’s attention to forest destruction. He then went to Hyderabad to give the petition and all the signatures to the Prime Minister at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity but was denied access. His efforts to meet the PM and deliver the petitions still continue.

While several people have been arrested over the course of the year for their cartoons or comments on social media, the nation has also shown its outrage over restraining freedom of speech in social networks. Events across the world have shown us that a movement which gathers momentum in the virtual world has immense potential to create real change on the ground. This is what Greenpeace is aiming at and the Facebook application is one step in this direction. Check it out here and be an agent of change yourself:

-Ignatius Thekaekara