Arbopals is a children’s virtual world with very real environmental impact. During its just-launched beta test phase, the Toronto-based virtual world’s nonprofit partners in more than 20 countries will plant a tree for each of the first 1,000 users who sign up (so far, kids in 43 countries have) – because “the UN says that to compensate for the damage we have all done to the environment, we should be planting ’14 billion trees every year for 10 consecutive years’,” Arbopals says on its home page. [Disclosure: I'm a member of the virtual world's Advisory Council.] Aimed at children aged 5-10, the beta site and world (called Arboria) at this point have games, a store, and the Arbopedia, a searchable encyclopedia “designed to complement school curricula.” Here, too, is the world’s YouTube channel, featuring Arbopals characters Treesa and Forrest. The site is expected to launch right before Earth Day, April 22. [In other recent NFN coverage, see "Moderator wisdom" and "Virtual world news update."]
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