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A tree grows on the web

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"They took all the trees, put 'em in a tree museum..."

Things haven't quite reached that point just yet (though it could be argued that national parks do serve that role, among others), but there's no denying that the home planet is suffering from the embarrassment of a receding tree line. And while there are many organizations devoted to the end of deforestation and promotion of reforestation, one of the more surprising enterprises to be sponsoring a global awareness campaign on the subject is a multi-national photography giant.

Japan's Fujifilm company has posted an online museum of sorts at Forests Forever.com - and the result could easily lead to planet-wide incidents of tree-hugging.

Tree lovers or not, Forests Forever makes an immediate and arresting first impression on its visitors. This Flash production has one of the longest opening animations I can remember seeing - so long that the designers almost seem to be daring visitors to click on the "Skip" link.

But the visuals that accompany the text (as it trickles onto the screen) are aesthetically beautiful, technically intriguing, and, along with the peaceful accompanying music, might even manage to establish a sense of 'serenity' in viewers before they proceed to the main presentation.

After the intro, Forests presents two main avenues of exploration - a walk through a Forest Gallery, and an exercise in Consciousness raising. The Gallery holds eight interactive exhibitions, each highlighting a unique woodland from locations around the world, with the most recent essay -and the one that automatically loads when you enter the Gallery- exploring the forest that has regrown on the lava coated slopes of Mt. Fuji in Japan. (In addition to two other locations in Japan, the Gallery also features sites in Germany, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and North America.)

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