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Blockchain: A Game-Changer for Nature Conservation?

Updated: Aug 28


Source: Shannon Wild

Blockchain technology has been a buzzword in recent years, hailed for its potential to transform industries and promote transparency and security. While most discussions have focused on its applications in finance, supply chain management, and cybersecurity, blockchain technology also holds significant promise for nature conservation.


In this blog post, we will explore the potential of blockchain technology in conservation, focusing on its applications, while also addressing the need for sustainable energy consumption. Drawing inspiration from previous blog post titles like Unlocking the Power of the Planet: How Google Earth Engine is Revolutionizing Remote Sensing and How Machine Learning is Transforming the Nature-Based Solutions industry, we will delve into the exciting world of blockchain technology and its impact on conservation and wildlife protection.


In this article, we will explore four key aspects of blockchain technology that are transforming the landscape of conservation: transparency and traceability in supply chains, conservation finance and tokenization, smart contracts for conservation governance, and citizen science and data management.

Transparency and Traceability in Supply Chains

Blockchain's decentralized and transparent nature makes it a powerful tool for tracking and verifying the origins and movement of resources. In the realm of conservation, blockchain can play a vital role in ensuring sustainable practices in supply chains. For instance, it can be used to trace the origin of timber, seafood, or other commodities, helping combat illegal logging or overfishing. Consumers can verify the authenticity and sustainability of products through blockchain-powered platforms.


For example: Provenance


Provenance is a platform that leverages blockchain technology to provide transparency and traceability in supply chains. It allows businesses and consumers to access reliable and verified information about the origin, journey, and impact of products. By creating an immutable record of transactions and utilizing smart contracts, Provenance ensures integrity and accountability, enabling ethical and sustainable sourcing practices. The platform empowers consumers to make informed choices and supports businesses in building trust and demonstrating their commitment to responsible production.


Source: provenance.org

Conservation Finance and Tokenization

Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize conservation finance by enabling decentralized fundraising and investment mechanisms. Tokenization allows fractional ownership of assets, enabling individuals to invest in conservation projects and ecosystems. For example, carbon credits can be tokenized, creating a new way to fund and incentivize conservation efforts related to carbon reduction. Additionally, tokens can represent tangible assets such as land or wildlife reserves, providing innovative avenues for financing conservation initiatives. These advancements in blockchain technology offer exciting possibilities for democratizing conservation finance and driving positive environmental impact.


However, it is crucial to approach tokenization and fundraising methods carefully to avoid unintended consequences and potential backlash. An incident involving the WWF serves as a cautionary tale. The organization faced significant backlash and accusations of hypocrisy over its plans to sell NFTs (non-fungible tokens) as part of a fundraising campaign. Critics argued that the energy consumption associated with blockchain technology contradicted the organization's environmental goals. This incident highlights the importance of considering the environmental implications and aligning blockchain technology with sustainability goals in conservation finance. By exercising caution and adhering to ethical standards, blockchain-based fundraising and tokenization, including the tokenization of carbon credits, can offer innovative pathways to support conservation initiatives while ensuring environmental integrity.


For example: Toucan Earth


Toucan Earth utilizes blockchain technology to tokenize carbon credits, creating a digital marketplace for sustainable investments. By offering transparency and accessibility, Toucan Earth empowers individuals and organizations to support impactful climate projects and contribute to a greener future. Through their platform, users can easily browse and invest in specific projects, making a tangible impact in the fight against climate change. Toucan Earth's innovative approach combines blockchain and environmental stewardship, revolutionizing the way we offset carbon emissions.


Source: toucan.earth

Smart Contracts for Conservation Governance

Smart contracts, facilitated by blockchain technology, are reshaping conservation efforts by providing automated and transparent systems for managing agreements and transactions. These self-executing contracts eliminate the need for intermediaries, reducing costs and enhancing efficiency in conservation projects. Through the use of smart contracts, funds can be securely allocated, ensuring that contributions are directed towards specific conservation initiatives. Smart contracts can also enable conditional payments, releasing funds when specific conservation milestones or goals are met.


For example: Unearthodox


Unearthodox operates as a foundation that facilitates the convergence of diverse perspectives to envision sustainable futures where nature and people thrive harmoniously. As part of its Digital Disruption and the Future of Conservation project, Unearthodox has published a Digital Disruption for Conservation toolkit designed to provide conservation practitioners with an introduction to Web 3.0 and AI concepts and their potential use for nature conservation. A particularly noteworthy section of this toolkit delves into Smart Contracts, which cites several groups which leverage this technology in nature conservation, such as GainForest and The Lemonade Crypto Climate Coalition.


Correction (28/08/23): This section previously stated that Unearthodox functions as a '…platform that leverages smart contracts and blockchain technology to address environmental challenges.' However, the organization has reached out in order to provide clarifications in regards to their organisation and mission. Unearthodox is not involved in the creation or trading of any blockchain-based products or services. For more information please reach out to them directly at info@unearthodox.org or visit their website https://unearthodox.org/.


Source: unearthodox.org

Citizen Science and Data Management

Citizen science and data management are being positively influenced by blockchain technology, creating new opportunities for public engagement and efficient data processing in conservation efforts. By involving individuals in data collection and analysis, citizen science initiatives leverage the collective power of a global community to generate valuable insights for conservation research. Blockchain technology enhances data management by providing secure and decentralized platforms for storing, validating, and sharing data, ensuring its integrity and accessibility.

For example: Wildchain

Wildchain is a blockchain-based platform that encourages citizen participation in wildlife conservation through gamified experiences. Users can contribute to data collection efforts by reporting wildlife sightings and behaviors, contributing to a growing database of valuable information. By leveraging blockchain's immutability and transparency, Wildchain ensures the authenticity and traceability of the data, enabling researchers and conservationists to access reliable information for decision-making.


Source: Wildchain

For example: Biocoin

BioCoin is a blockchain project that combines cryptocurrency and citizen science. Participants are rewarded with BioCoins for contributing ecological data through surveys and observations. This incentivized approach fosters active citizen engagement while building a comprehensive database of ecological information. By utilizing blockchain, BioCoin provides a decentralized and secure platform for storing and managing data, ensuring its accuracy and reliability.


Conclusion

Blockchain technology holds immense potential for transforming conservation efforts. Through its applications in supply chain transparency, conservation finance and tokenization, smart contracts for governance, and citizen science and data management, blockchain empowers individuals and organizations to actively engage in environmental stewardship. It offers the promise of trust, transparency, and efficiency in conservation initiatives.


However, it is important to acknowledge the limitations of blockchain, particularly its energy consumption. The current energy-intensive nature of blockchain networks raises concerns about their environmental impact. Nevertheless, initiatives are underway to address these challenges and develop more eco-friendly blockchain networks. One such example is the Chia Network, which aims to create a sustainable and energy-efficient blockchain infrastructure.


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