Evie Godfrey2023 Longlist, 2023 Shortlist - Social Good, Opening Up

Tree-person is an interactive report that seeks to raise awareness of the effects of deforestation through the story of an Amazonian tree whose life was taken so that its body could be transformed into furniture. It is part of the More-than-humans project, created by
SUMAÚMA – a vehicle based in the Brazilian Amazon –, which tells stories through the grammar of animation, in which animals, plants, fungi and other non-human beings are also actors and authors. The concept subverts the logic of traditional journalism, which usually presents deforestation in cold numbers, in hectares, and transforms all the dead individuals in the forest into a single mass, generally compared to areas of football fields. By depersonalizing, it creates distance in the reader and desensitizes them. More-than-humans does the opposite, treating all beings as unique individuals equally important for the life of the forest and the planet.

Therefore, we chose, in Tree-person, to tell the story of a tree’s life, showing its many interactions/friendships with other living beings in the forest. One of the many trees killed daily in the Amazon, the largest tropical forest in the world, where deforestation has increased over the past few years. To do this, we chose to use the same format used in the press to tell about the lives of human people: the obituary.

We started the work with the analysis of recent studies on deforestation. We needed to choose the tree to be portrayed and we decided on an ipe tree, which saw a 120% increase in deforestation between 2007 and 2019 in the Brazilian Amazon and became one of the most exported species to Europe, the United States and Canada. Afterwards, we began extensive scientific research to establish what life is like for an ipe tree in the Amazon. With the help of scientists, we established how she was born, the relationships she produced with other beings throughout each phase of her life and we arrived at her death. Her lifeless body, transformed into wood, is exported and becomes furniture – this post-mortem path was also traced based on investigations by the environmental police into how the gangs that illegally deforest the forest operate.

The entire interactive infographic, made using the Scrollytelling model, has hand-drawn illustrations painted in watercolor by Amazonian artist Hadna Abreu. Below the obituary texts, we bring a score with the raw data on the problem of ipe deforestation.