Blockchain Platform Offers Reforestation Efforts Access to Carbon Finance


Mixed-use landscape, Mau Forest, Kenya CIFOR/Sande Murunga

In the latest assessment from the United Nations Climate Science Panel, experts have highlighted the potential benefits of natural solutions to combat global warming, particularly terrestrial mitigation.

the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that even if current national climate commitments are met, they will not effectively limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages.

The world faces at least 2.2 degrees Celsius, if not more, without taking drastic measures, the report says.

While fossil fuels are identified as the main culprit, there is consensus that a properly managed land use sector, which includes agriculture and forestry, can help reduce emissions, remove and store carbon dioxide.

The land use sector contributes approximately 25% on emissionsbut could contribute twice as much to emission reductions.

Through land restoration and the use of integrated land management techniques, academics say, the ever-increasing trajectory of global warming will be reduced, while benefiting biodiversity and ecosystems.

It’s no small feat to restore degraded land – estimated at 25% of the world’s land area.

It’s here that Open Forest Protocol (OFP), an innovative blockchain-based open-source platform, aims to make a big difference, by closing the gaps that currently make accurate and transparent measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) difficult.

The application, which is web-based, is designed to provide smallholders, land users, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments and other stakeholders with the ability to measure and verify carbon on their land so that they can recover results-based payments.

Using blockchain creates a transparent and secure way to store information, which cannot be changed or altered.

“It’s designed as a community project where different groups of people can look at the data, and then if it’s validated by the community, it goes over a blockchain system so the data is transparent,” said the OPF founder, Frédéric Fournier, during an interview. on the sidelines of the UN COP26 climate talks in Glasgow last year.

“This is the first step – the second step of the project is that we will then improve MRV’s ability to grant access to government funding for projects that do not have access to it.”

Ultimately, the idea is to create a standardized system for creating carbon credits for trading in voluntary carbon markets based on MRV, he said, adding that accuracy is vital whether credits are to be traded or traded to offset government or corporate emissions.

Demand is expected to grow exponentially as countries and companies work to offset their emissions as they try to meet their targets.

Currently, reforestation efforts are often hampered by a lack of precision around the data, making it difficult to determine whether it reflects the true status of trees in the landscape.

Last month, OFP, which is a partner of the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), signed a pact with Ivory Coast working with local communities and a non-governmental organization to sustainably reforest and restore 5,067 hectares of degraded forest land in the Gorké forest region.

It is one of 15 projects involved so far.

Users can monitor the web interface on a dashboard displaying a list of projects, assign field agents to a specific project, verify data once it has been collected in the field, and re-verify it. Then the data can be sent through the dashboard for validation within the blockchain community – the third party running it.

“It’s a different kind of approach,” said Radoslav Dragov, who oversees business development and fundraising at the OFP. “It’s community-driven, open-source, and low-cost, which makes it a game-changer – we’re trying to break down silos and create something that really uses new technologies and can empower people around the world. trees, which is good for the environment, but they should also get something in return.

“It is important to note that this approach does not exclude considering the value of forests as natural assets in addition to the increase around carbon and climate, added Fournier.

Most reforestation projects currently cannot access carbon finance if they are less than 1,200 hectares, based on the analysis of all Verra Reports to date and discussions with projects trying to become Verra certified, say Dragov and Fournier who hope that through OFP, planting trees will lead to more carbon finance, which will lead to more plantings.

“Nature-based solutions can reduce emissions by 33%, Fournier said. “Nature-based solutions are obviously not the only thing, but certainly one of the best ways to fight climate change.”

The company, which has 25 employees, is headquartered in Geneva, but also has an office in Austin, Texas, and is expanding its presence in Nairobi.

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