The Białowieża Forest in Poland is one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe, that covers an area of around 3000 km2 on both sides of the border between Belarus and Poland.

To raise awareness of the forest, and to help protect it from excessive logging, Greenpeace Poland asked GeoBoxers to create Bialowieza in Minecraft.

The Minecraft version of the forest is 35 by 35 km and covers an area of approximately 700 km2 of the Polish parts of the forest. The world is scale 1:1 meaning that the size of each block is 1 m3. Altogether there are more than 50 billion blocks in the Minecraft forest.

The Białowieża Forest in Minecraft will be accessible on a public server from June 27.

The Białowieża Forest in Minecraft

Białowieża in Minecraft is based on OpenStreetMap data and digitized polygons that cover different types of forest (biomes); deciduous and coniferous forest, swamp, grassland, riverbanks etc. To form the underlying terrain, SRTM data were used. All roads, buildings and trails are left out of the map.

The process of calculating the model is highly automated – preparation of data is not. For this project GeoBoxers developed a library of different types of trees and biomes to simulate the specifics of the Bialowieza Forest and match those biomes indicated by the provided GIS data. These biomes and trees were to a wide extent modelled manually to ensure a certain artistic and natural expression of the forest.

The trees

 

To make sure trees weren’t too identical (and to make them lifelike), at least two independent artists would make their own impression of the same tree type which were again warped and transformed in various ways. In total 7 people were involved in the creation of Bialowieza in Minecraft, the youngest builder being 6 years old, the oldest 71. Minecraft only has a limited amount of leaf and wood types but by combining what is available in the building process, exciting new trees resembling the iconic majestic oaks, 50 meter pines, birches, willow, alder and a lot of other sorts of trees were recreated. In total the library contains more than 40 different tree types, each to be warped, rotated, stretched and squeezed by our algorithm to make each tree appear unique.

The trees are placed using an algorithm which takes various real life characteristics into consideration and also adds a momentum of randomness. In wetlands trees are scarcer than in dense forest and of different types. It is uncertain exactly how many trees are generated but a low estimate would be around 6-7 millions.

Minecraft is for all ages. Three artists building trees for Bialowieza.

Viewpoints

To give visitors the opportunity to get a better view of landscapes and wild-life in the forest, several wooden towers and viewpoints are located around Białowieża. These are also included in the Minecraft version of the forest.

Read more and get access

The Bialowieza Forest in Minecraft is accessible on a public server from June 27. Read more, watch images and get access to the server.

Go directly to Greenpeace’s project page here

Elevation data: SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission)

GIS data: OpenStreetMap