The reforestation community, like any ecosystem, is sustained through the careful alignment of members occupying different niches. Corporations are interested in offsetting their carbon to meet regulatory requirements, as well as displaying corporate social responsibility to their customer base. Meanwhile, governments are responding to increasing anxiety about the climate crisis with ambitious tree-planting commitments at local, national, and global levels. Investors hoping to cash in on novel carbon markets are investing heavily in reforestation projects, who in turn stay afloat by proving the success of their tree planting operations. All the while, entrepreneurs, technology providers, and local communities are finding ways to align their value chains with existing reforestation projects.
At present, the ecosystem looks more like a tangle of individual and disconnected strands than an interconnected web with a common direction: investors struggle to identify legitimate reforestation projects, project funding mechanisms are inflexible, and the carbon credit market is a mess of siloed certification bodies with nonstandard methodologies. The industry is inhibited by countless inefficiencies borne out of industry-wide in-cohesion.
The Open Reforestation Protocol recognizes that reforestation has the potential to reverse the current spiral towards catastrophic climate change. For businesses looking to grow with the reforestation economy, unnecessary inefficiencies will not do. ORP aligns the incentives of reforestation stakeholders in the world’s first global, digitized reforestation platform for handling monitoring, reporting and verification needs — at scale, and in an open-source and inclusive manner. Take a look at the following schematic to understand how this all works:
Let’s break this down piece by piece, beginning with the project operators. The first project operators on ORP will be reforestation and afforestation projects, but the model can accommodate any project that sequesters carbon. When you’re trying to plant trees (or grow kelp or harvest shellfish), you need money to do that. By utilizing ORP’s standardized MRV system, project operators can certify the veracity of their efforts so as to attract more investor attention.
On to the collateral providers in the ecosystem. A collateral provider on the ORP protocol is interested in achieving certain goals (such as the acquisition of carbon credits or certain habitat restoration targets), and they need to be sure that the money they invest achieves their anticipated return. The current landscape struggles to accommodate collaborative funding mechanisms, since there is not enough transparency to accurately report to each stakeholder the impact of their money spent, or the overall success of a project. As a solution, project ownership in the ORP ecosystem can be fractionalized, and ORP tokens can be split based on percent stake in the project. Meanwhile, the entire life-cycle of a project is uploaded onto the protocol and hashed on-chain for anyone and everyone to verify.
Reforestation project operators pay a fee when they upload their data, which goes to a decentralized group of validators who vote on the veracity of the data upload. This fee is then rewarded to the validators who support the consensus decision. If certain ORP token holders on the protocol validate the data, then they post a bond that is their way of putting their money where their mouth is, and after a certain amount of time they receive the data upload fee put up by the project operator at the very beginning. However, during this time period any other ORP token holder can challenge the legitimacy of the data upload by following a similar process, and if successful, receives the data upload fee instead of the validator. This is the essence of the mechanism: data is certified by validators who have an incentive to correctly discern between real and faulty data.
Entrepreneurs can integrate their business model with the ORP. In the past, tree-planting entrepreneurs have had to either carry out their reforestation projects themselves, or identify one of many tree planting organizations to do their reforestation for them, both of which are expensive and hard to monitor. ORP modernizes the entrepreneurial side of reforestation by aligning the value chains of project operators with entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs can integrate in one of three ways: 1.) they can build DApps that function alongside ORP’s open-source data, 2.) they can act as investors, sending money to reforestation projects in exchange for verified reports on trees planted, or 3.) they can create novel business models surrounding any aspect of the ORP value chain, such as land tenure or carbon trading.
We couldn’t rightly call ORP “Reforestation 2.0” without a section on technology. At ORP, we believe technology providers should spend their time developing new products, not trying to convince people to use their cutting-edge tech. ORP introduces tech providers to a ready-made pool of users who can request technology integration on the Reforester application, streamlining the implementation process and giving tech companies more room to innovate.
Reforestation is one of a select few industries with the future of civilization resting on its success. ORP strikes an efficient balance between competition and collaboration. It is a regular competitive ecosystem in that the projects and services succeed based on merit. However, it is foremost a collaborative protocol, since it standardizes and optimizes the activities of each stakeholder for maximum tree planting outputs. Reforestation must smooth out its inefficiencies if humanity is to avoid catastrophic climate change, and ORP is gonna do it.