July 27, 2011

Scriptoria Blog

BusyTrees – communicating complex messages to new audiences

Here at Scriptoria, we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty in the name of effective communications – which is why we recently spent a week running a booth at the Glastonbury music festival to promote the BusyTrees agroforestry campaign.

BusyTrees is an international campaign that has been carefully devised to explain how using trees in agriculture (known as ‘agroforestry’) can help to combat poverty and the effects of climate change – which tends to ‘hit’ the poor in developing countries hardest. The main challenge has been to take agroforestry (a scientifically complex subject) and repackage it into a fun and accessible format that non-specialists can easily digest and will want to engage with.

Of course, advocacy of this kind takes more than a glossy website if you really want to get your complex messages across to a busy audience like young professionals. And that’s why we decided to physically deliver at least some aspects of the campaign at major festivals – pitching ourselves bang in the middle of the “Green Fields” environmental zone of the world’s biggest music festival. This is something that the groups who commissioned the campaign have never done before – and it’s proving to be a tremendous success.

As you can see in the video on this page, we also enlisted some invaluable help from the extremely cuddly BusyTrees mascot, Max Mango. He never failed to grab the attention (and affection) of passers-by, and we were able to collect a whopping 2300 signatures to jumpstart our “trees on farms” petition. What’s more, Glastonbury was teeming with fantastic new contacts – researchers, students, people working in the media, and CSR executives from large corporations. Just the type of people we need to help get the agroforestry movement off the ground worldwide.

More importantly, the agroforestry experts at the BusyTrees booth were able to explain in some detail to a completely new audience how agroforestry impacts not only upon the poor in Africa and Asia but also upon them – through products like fair trade small-holder grown coffee and chocolate for example. As one person said to us on the stall “I always buy fair trade and rainforest alliance products when I’m shopping – but until I talked to you guys I didn’t really know why!”

The BusyTrees campaign itself was commissioned as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Forests by the World Agroforestry Centre and other major international research partners like the UK’s Kew Gardens and CABI. It’s over arching aim is simply to raise awareness of the many benefits that using more trees in agriculture can bring – because although the amazing work done by the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners is well-known amongst top-level development agencies, it remains almost unknown by the public in the developed world. BusyTrees aims to change this situation, bringing support, and hence more political clout, to their vital “trees on farms” message. So, Scriptoria’s very pleased to be the company that’s been chosen to bring this about.

Check out the BusyTrees website here www.busytrees.com for a very brief introduction to the campaign. If you want more detailed information on agroforestry, you can find it at the www.treesonfarms.com – which is BusyTrees sister site. And if you’re a keen Facebooker, don’t forget to sign up at http://www.facebook.com/busytrees for all the latest campaign news and factoids.

All the best,

The Scriptoria Team

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