• Helen Avery

Blue Carbon Meets Blockchain

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

Uniquely able to breathe and survive in brackish water, filtering out salt through their leaves, and able to migrate when necessary, mangroves are one of the most resilient types of tree on Earth. So resilient, in fact, that they survived the world’s last mass extinction.

Having weathered 80-odd million years of planetary events, when the tsunami of 2004 ripped through Sri Lanka and Indonesia, it was the mangroves that acted as a shield to coastal areas. And when cyclone Nargis ravaged Myanmar in 2008 claiming more than 138,000 lives, areas where man- groves thrived experienced a lower loss of human and aquatic life.

The mangroves have not been resilient, however, to the intense deforestation that has occurred as shorelines across the tropics and sub- tropics have been cleared to make way for shrimp farms, industry, hotels and beachfront properties. Nor have they been able to withstand the chemical run- offs of farming. From 2001 to 2012, between 35 and 97 square miles of mangrove forest were lost each year – a higher rate of loss than that experienced by tropical rainforests.

Yet mangroves are incredibly effective at sequestering carbon. One mangrove tree can capture a full tonne of carbon in only 20 years. Indeed, weight for weight, some studies indicate mangroves can sequester four times more carbon than rainforests.

In Myanmar, the NGO Worldview International Foundation (WIF) has been planting mangrove trees for seven years – it has now planted almost six million of them. By 2023 it hopes to have planted 300 million, capturing and storing over 150 million tonnes of CO₂. Now two academic entrepreneurs from Singapore Management University who are involved in WIF’s mangrove project have set up the Global Mangrove Trust (GMT) as a means of getting international payments to WIF for tree planting and to sell offsets. They are hoping to use blockchain and bitcoins to do it, working with a bank and Zilliqa in Singapore to develop the technology. 

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