Six hundred trees, planted in a plot the size of a tennis court. It may not sound much, but this is a Tiny Forest, and it’s part of a very big ambition. An ambition we’re helping our client Earthwatch Europe to achieve across the UK.
Here’s the elevator pitch: each Tiny Forest will help an urban community reconnect with nature in their local area and improve the wellbeing of children and adults, by offering an accessible green space and educational resource. At the same time, each forest packs a serious biodiversity punch, able to attract and support 500+ animal and plant species within five years, and help make our cities more resilient in the face of climate change.
And the final benefit? The Tiny Forest programme enables businesses to give something back to the communities they work amongst. Each Tiny Forest is made possible by corporate sponsorship and volunteers' involvement in planting and caring for the forests.
The programme is international, but in the UK it’s led exclusively by Earthwatch Europe, who planted the first Tiny Forest in 2020 and have now grown over 200 of them. They’ve been helped along the way by some big-hitting, and highly committed, corporate partners, including Bloomberg, Fever-Tree and MINI. By 2030, they aim to have planted 500 Tiny Forests.
So where do we come in? Well, we started working with Earthwatch back in 2020, successfully using our Social Labs testing programme to find social media propositions that engaged people with local nature and wildlife projects, something that resonated very well during a pandemic.
This year, our task is different: to use social media testing for a business-to-business campaign to find new companies interested in sponsoring a Tiny Forest. It’s been a fascinating challenge. Will senior business leaders be more engaged by boosting their brand’s social responsibility credentials, joining well-respected peer companies after reading their testimonials, giving back to their local community – or being part of something tiny, but potentially huge? Social Labs enables us to test a range of these propositions cost-effectively, monitor results with real-time agility and turn off anything that doesn’t work.
At the same time, this campaign taps into a very current debate around corporate social responsibility: how far do you outsource it by paying a charity, and how much do you do yourself? As companies strive to improve the ‘E’ (for Environment) component of their ESG metrics, many may find that the complexities of their business models and supply chains mean that they have to involve third parties in order to achieve their sustainability ambitions – at least in the short term.
Watch this space – we’ll feed back soon on this not-so-tiny campaign with big potential…