As of December 2005, WWF Bolivia has been implementing the Un Árbol (One Tree) Bolivia massive awareness campaign on forest conservation and sustainable management.
WWF Bolivia's Forest Programme, under its Cities for Forests initiative, is promoting the Un Árbol Bolivia Project as an educational and integrating campaign expressed through the artistic work of 66 artists (the most representative designers, architects, businesses and institutions at national level), who created artistic and functional pieces through the use of an entire tree harvested from La Chonta Company's forest concession, which is under management and has Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.
Un Árbol Bolivia also promotes reflecting upon the importance of good forest management and the interaction forests have with men, ranging from the communities to the transformation companies. The Un Árbol Bolivia Project also directs attention to the vast richness that is found in forests in general and the potential they represent for the country's development.
So far, the following has been achieved: the commitment and participation of 66 Bolivian participants (artists, designers, architects, furniture designers, craftsmen, and others) achieved between December 2005 and December 2006; selection and felling of the tree to be used by the participants in May 2006; production of 150 art and design pieces concluded in January 2007; a public event, the First International Sculptors’ Workshop, successfully held in October 2006.
In March 2007, all the pieces will be publicly presented and sold at the specialized ExpoForest 2007 exhibition and trade fair, event that will also be attended by the founders of the first One Tree Project, which took place in the UK in November 1998, Mr. Garry Olson and Mr. Peter Toaig, who have also generously offered to give a free seminar on furniture design at a local university in Santa Cruz. Also, after the Expoforest 2007, WWF Bolivia will extend the exhibit for two additional weeks so that it can emphasize, especially with a student audience, the forest conservation messages and for which Bolivian students between the ages of 14 and 18 years old will be targeted, estimating approximately 15,000 visitors.
Undoubtedly this campaign has been proof of how massive and far we can take our message of conservation and sustainability when efforts are joined: all the participants’ work has been voluntary; the photos taken to document the process will also be donated by a well known national photographer (Willy Kenning), numerous volunteers have given their time to help with logistical needs, over 20 companies and institutions have sponsored diverse activities (the tree was donated by a timber company, the FSC certification of the whole project was donated by Smartwood / Rainforest Alliance, the sculptors’ workshop was co-organized by the local municipal government, hotel accommodations, food and beverages by restaurants and hotels, plane tickets by a national airline, to mention a few).
Press coverage has also been massive and key to the campaign’s success - the first day of the sculptors’ workshop received extensive coverage by 4 national newspapers papers. And, approximately 100,000 people visited the First International Sculptor’s Workshop, where the 6 participating artists created their pieces during a one week period in public plaza, allowing for the general public to appreciate and see how huge pieces of wood were literally transformed into art.
A book that records the process
In order to record this process, in 2007 WWF will be publishing a full colour book with incredible photos depicting the campaign’s story from start to finish, including each piece produced as well as information on its author and other participants. All the pieces will be sold and the money raised will be used in the 27 primary schools located in the indigenous communal land (TCO) Guarayos to promote environmental education. Children in the area will benefit from this donation. Un Árbol Bolivia will be first the event in Bolivia that shows how art, industry and conservation can join forces to preserve the environment.
One Tree projects have taken place before not only in the UK, but also in Australia and Nicaragua. After WWF Bolivia’s experience, WWF Peru and WWF Colombia have also expressed interest in using this innovative awareness tool in their countries.