It’s a daunting ambition: to plant a million native trees over the wild expanses of Chilean Patagonia.
But thanks to support from individuals and companies around the world, Reforestemos Patagonia recently notched its first major milestone toward that goal, with the campaign announcing it had reached 100,000 trees since kicking off in May.
The trees represent an area of more than 247 acres (100 ha) in four different national parks and reserves, including the iconic Torres del Paine, and will eventually lead to new habitats for pumas and huemuls, among other native species.
Matías Rivera, executive director of the campaign, said that this success, coupled with the innovative nature of the campaign, had led to interest from “Argentina, Mexico, the United States, Spain, India and other countries looking to replicate our platform and model.’
“Reforestemos Patagonia has managed to unite, through civil society, the private and public sector in turn for a common cause,” Rivera said.
“The fact that this is a campaign was born from civil society, that aims to address a national problem and achieve a benefit for all of society, together with the use of georeferencing technologies, social media, and the creation of a ‘virtual forest’ where everyone has their own tree, has captured the attention of prestigious internationals publications.”
Publicity events have included the inaugural Patagonian International Marathon, which was held over the weekend and attracted over 350 athletes from 18 different countries. It was won by Australian Luke Myers, who battled fierce Patagonian winds to clock a time of 2 hours, 12 minutes.
In the digital world, the campaign has enlisted ambassadors, opinion leaders, actors, journalists, sports stars and artists to promote the event on Twitter and its Facebook page, which now counts over 10,000 fans.
But perhaps its most innovative use of technology has been Reforestemos Patagonia’s use of gaming techniques to encourage people to get involved.
Those who want to purchase or gift their own tree select from a virtual forest of burnt trees, representing the trees lost in wildfires in December last year. That virtual tree will then pay for a real one, and you and your friends on Facebook will literally be able to see that tree grow.
Trees cost just US$4 and people from anywhere in the world can participate in the campaign. To do so, and for more information, click here.