This essay features an idea to use tokens to represent forests' inherent value and create a mechanism for capital to flow into and be stored in areas of protected forests. Enjoy! – SNI
Today, forests are being destroyed to generate logging income. From Centree’s perspective, trees yield a higher value when preserved. More specifically, primary and old-growth forests serve critical roles in mitigating climate change due to their level of ecological support. Such support mechanisms include biodiversity maintenance, watershed protection, and carbon sequestration. The current extractive economic system forces forest communities, workers, and governments to depend on logging income. It also does not offer a systemic catalyst for change. Non-timber values of forests, such as their capacity to store carbon and host biodiversity, are not yet accounted for, even though they are rapidly becoming more critical as ecological crises exert pressure on Earth’s biosphere. Forests are not the only entities that suffer due to heavy logging; external impacts from logging also affect the cultural values inherent to indigenous communities.
Centree’s idea is to create a solution that keeps forests alive while creating sustainable economic alternatives to unsustainable extractive income. Their solution uses tokens to represent forests’ inherent value and create a mechanism for capital to flow into and be stored in areas of protected forests. Such a token backed by nature allows global investors to reward local communities and landowners for stewarding and regenerating forests to the benefit of everyone, human and non-human. This idea would turn conservation into a global investment rather than a local cost. Investors could then buy these tokens with funds that counteract extractive economic pressures on the forests and establish legal protection and stewardship agreements with local communities. In addition to creating tokens for forests’ holistic value, Centree plans to generate credits for specific eco-system services, such as carbon and biodiversity, which can provide an ongoing source of revenue for stewardship and a return for landowners and investors. Lastly, Centree will provide services to help forestry workers and communities transition to long-term, sustainable sources of income, such as eco-tourism and wild harvesting.
Today’s win-lose extractive logging business will eventually become a lose-lose under the “business as usual” approach. By creating an alternative where all stakeholders, both locally and globally, benefit from adopting Centree’s solution, the team will create a new, win-win scenario.
Old-growth forests are one of Centree’s greatest sources of inspiration for this idea. These forests have evolved for millennia, creating a sustainable ecosystem where everything cycles and nothing is wasted. For their team, forests serve as an inspirational model for human economies to follow. By studying the principles that allow forests to regenerate, such as the circulation of nutrients and balanced diversity of niches, humans can learn how to make economies sustainable.
Did you know the word “inspire” comes from the Latin inspirare meaning “to breathe into”? Sometimes, simple things, like a breath of fresh forest air, provide inspiration.
Regarding the next steps for this idea, Centree is currently setting up its organization, designing the economic model, building a tech stack, and looking for investors. The team is also working with an Indigenous forest community to develop a pilot project to prove the concept and inform the design. They plan to eventually work with forests worldwide once the pilot project has been established, the model has been refined, and the core framework has been built out.
The SNI team asked Centree what the concept of “sovereign nature” means to them. In response, they noted that Daniel Schamchtenburger has a great blog post about sovereignty being the product of sentience (mind/thinking), intelligence (heart/feeling), and agency (will/acting). In the blog, Daniel notes the importance of combining all three for integral human development by creating feedback cycles of sensing, processing, and acting intelligently.
If everyone were to acknowledge that humans are part of nature, respecting the sovereignty of nature can be thought of as aligning with the evolution of life. The forests Centree wants to steward have sovereignty on their own, albeit limited. But when humans are seen as part of forests, the sentience, intelligence, and agency of the whole ecosystem can be reconfigured for the benefit of all life.
Meet the Team
The core team includes Peter Corke, Alex Gordan-Brander, Adam Rockefeller Groward, Josh Weinstein, Peter Van Garderen, Shawn Andersson, Darren Zal, Martin Melendro, and Ben Geselbracht, alongside a growing number of advisers in multiple fields who support our vision.