In an increasingly interconnected world, where the tragedy of the commons has become an expectation instead of an exception, the continent of Africa stands at a crossroads on the future of one of its most precious natural assets: Forests.
Yet, since 1960, forests across the continent have been degraded for food and crop subsistence as well as industrially deforested for the likes of timber, mining, infrastructure, and agriculture. In some places like Madagascar, less than 60% of the forest remains from the last two hundred years. The continent as a whole averages an annual loss of 3.9 million hectares of forest area that increasingly encroaches upon some of the most resource rich, biodiverse land in the world.
At root, this tragedy of the commons is similar to forest degradation in other parts of the world, like the Amazon: Not only are few records kept across the continent, but up-to-date data remains sparse with some of the largest players like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Sudan and Central African Republic, simply not reporting. With new mining auctions opening up across the Congo Basin, an increase in demand for coffee and cocoa across the horn of Africa, and expected food shortages across the global south, the unclear future of forests in Africa has become a global challenge for environmentalists and technologists alike.
In response to such a threat, answers like Open Forest Protocol (OFP) have sprouted up, with the promise of not only overhauling the legacy forestation industry, but of remaking it around new values: Truth, local communities, and human-collaboration. Beyond the jargon and technicalities of what has recently been coined ‘Web3’ OFP has recently launched a public blockchain-based platform on the climate neutral NEAR Protocol, designed to better preserve and protect forests around the world – to make them ‘Open’ to public scrutiny, financing, and preservation in a hitherto inaccessible manner.
Naturally, Africa is one of the largest opportunities for OFP, who has readily established partnerships with the Government of Ivory Coast, the Kenyan Forest Service, as well as more than a dozen local NGOs across Uganda, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, and Nigeria. The platform boasts an entirely new competitive advantage for environmentalists: It’s Free to Use.
On OFP, projects and local stakeholders take the lead in collecting data concerning the state of their forest, from which a network of global validators confirms the accuracy of the project data. Agency is returned to the people, while the real state of the forest is hashed immutably on chain for the entire world to see. Over time, projects using OFP will establish the entire lifecycle for the growth of their forest – opening up new avenues for financing conservation and reforestation projects alike.
As Frederic Fournier, CEO of OFP explains:
“When we went to COP-26 in Glasgow, we were shocked by the amount of government representatives from different countries across Africa that were enthusiastic about utilizing OFP for national and non-governmental forest projects. The continent is eager to protect their natural assets, and is on its way to flipping the script of the last 50 years. At a time when data is hard to rely upon and forests are increasingly at risk, we are encouraged by a future where forests in Africa are living on-chain, and verifiably true.”
While OFP currently provides measurement, reporting, and verification services (MRV) for any project for free, it has the exciting opportunity to potentially offer carbon-financing for projects in the near future. As a network, OFP would charge no up-front costs to potential carbon accreditation projects, but rather take a small protocol wide fee for the relevant network stakeholders after the credits have been issued. With this design OFP is well positioned to jumpstart the market for a new commodity value that can better protect and conserve the threatened African forests: Living trees. To learn more about Open Forest Protocol, visit the website, or sign up today as a project or validation partner!