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bundled ecological nft
Lab Leader: Philip Taylor

Our goal is to develop a bundled NFT in order to monetize the ecological value of regenerative organic agriculture for farmers. The Earth needs a regenerative revolution in agriculture that solves global challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and the production of chemical-free and nutritious food, by restoring the health of the land. Regenerative and organic agriculture embodies this revolution by maximizing the health of soil, people and animals by taking a living systems approach to work with nature, rather than against it, to raise crops and nourish the ecosystems we depend on. We know this to be true from farmer anecdotes, a handful of early academic studies1,2 and our own nascent research program. Farmers and ranchers however do not receive full value for the benefits they create, such as carbon sequestration, water quality, biodiversity, nutritional quality, and more. Farmers receive value for what they raise and sell: crops and livestock; however, this revenue is often inadequate for providing the revenues to accelerate farm transformation and doesn’t reward farmers for the multiplicity of public benefits that regenerative agriculture creates. We believe that new ecosystem markets are needed to value and monetize natural assets.

Here, we propose a lab to design and launch a Bundled Ecological NFT using the RegenNetwork platform. Some critical components of this new NFT would include:

1. Multiple credit classes bundled together. Monetize the benefits beyond carbon sequestration by quantifying and valuing biodiversity, water, nutritional quality of food, as well as qualitative features of regeneration, including beauty and story.

2. Reward for both practice and outcome. Buyers want outcomes (i.e. tons of carbon sequestrated), yet who will pay for the practices (i.e. compost, holistic grazing, etc.) that generate outcomes? The world is asking farmers to bear the upfront capital risk. We are building a credit that attracts capital to pay for practices as well as outcomes.

3. Non-Fungibility. Ecosystems are not fungible, and should be treated as such. A wetland (and its carbon) in Ohio is not the same as a patch of short-grass steppe prairie in Montana. We need a market mechanism that honors place. The way to do this is by creating a credit that values a place for both its quantitative and qualitative value.  

4. Reward for regeneration beyond the farm field to consider the whole farm ecosystem, which provides a finance mechanism to incentivize rewilding. This approach disrupts the fencerow-to-fencerow mentality of maximizing production by encouraging financial investment in the landscape as a whole, where the greatest impact for climate and biodiversity benefits exist.

The lab will help fill two scientific gaps: 1) Develop unique credit classes (i.e. carbon sequestration, soil health, water, biodiversity, etc.) with specific scientific methodologies with known costs and uncertainty. And, 2) use modeling and remote sensing to come down the cost-curve for MMRV. In 2021, we launched a rigorous field-based research program to better understand the financial and ecological benefits of regenerative organic agriculture, examining soil health, soil carbon sequestration (down to 1 meter depth), soil water function (i.e. water infiltration, water holding capacity and porosity), and the biodiversity of insects and birds over a 10-year period. This data will form the basis for ground truthing lower cost measurement solutions.

Phil Taylor, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Mad Agriculture

I grew up in rural Maryland on farmland at the top of the Chesapeake Bay, raised by a family that taught me stewardship and my place in the world. I've always felt a deep purpose to ensure the beauty and wellbeing of the Earth, which humans are part and parcel of. I am drawn to agriculture because food is at the heart of our existence, and how we eat largely determines how the world is used. Humans are increasingly disconnected from food and the farmers that feed us all, which has driven a dramatic deterioration of global ecosystems, culture and economy. My life work is to create a world where people and ecosystem flourish together. I long to see coastal rivers rife with migrating fish, the prairies abundant with buffalo, the oceans churning with anchovies and whales, the Amazon rainforest left to stand, the bays rich with oysters and blue crabs, the mountains with glaciers and snow, and people living in their rightful place among it all. Seeking this vision of what was and could be requires wild creativity. Radical love must be the root of all action. I am also a fellow at the University of Colorado, where I teach The Future of Food in the Masters of the Environment Food Systems program. I have diverse international experience in both private and public sectors, and I've led research and outreach campaigns throughout Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. From 2013-2014 I co-founded Aethos Energy, an exploratory PE fund for accelerating renewable energy in the global south. (Academic Profile)

1. LaCanne & Lundgren (2018). Regenerative agriculture: Merging farming and natural resource conservation profitably. PeerJ 6, e4428.
2. Bowles et al. (2020). Long-Term Evidence Shows that Crop-Rotation Diversification Increases Agricultural Resilience to Adverse Growing Conditions in North America.
One Earth (2) 3: 284-293.

Coastal Wetland Forests
Elliott White Jr

The goal of our lab is to create a high-spatial resolution map of coastal forested wetlands at global scale. If we know precisely where these ecologically critical but fragile forests are located, we can manage freshwater flows to counteract saltwater introgression due to rising sea levels, and we can assist in their migration inland, preserving their critical function in protecting coastlines and sequestering carbon.

Bison
Jason Baldes
Gisel Booman

Across the continent, a number of first nations are in the process of reintroducing bison to the grasslands in which they were once the primary grazer and an ecologically vital species. Initial experiences and evolutionary considerations suggest that this may be ecologically beneficial in terms of grassland biodiversity, carbon cycle, and resilience to climate change. However, these questions have not yet been studied at scale. In this lab, we will leverage remote sensing to scale up from ground measurements, establishing the large-scale patterns of bison impact.

Riparian Ecosystems
Forrest Pound

Beaver dams are known to result in greener, more drought-resilient waterways in semi-arid environments. We are using computer vision to spot dams in satellite imagery, generating a large dataset that we can use to train models that will tell us what the ecological effects of a dam will be at any point on a waterway. The goal is to create a tool to guide efficient restoration through the introduction of small dams.

Bundled Ecological NFT
Philip Taylor

Markets in voluntary carbon credits are increasingly providing a flow of capital for regenerating ecosystems. The problem is, thriving and resilient ecosystems are not just carbon. We need to find ways to structure credits to incentivize the diverse and functional ecosystems we want, not merely high-concentrations of carbon. We will design the technological tools to support a market in bundled ecological credits.

Global Forests
Aron Boettcher

We are building an accurate and global model for predicting potential rates of reforestation and resulting carbon sequestration. Such a model could have a transformational impact on global reforestation efforts by opening new streams of financing in the form of carbon credit futures.

Impact & Risk
Aaron Hirsh
Valérie Lechêne

Leveraging The Earthshot Institute’s broad scientific and technical expertise, the Impact and Risk Lab helps investors and governments who earnestly want to forecast, measure, and address the socio-ecological risks to and/or impacts from their work. For a given system, we build simple process-based models to identify key socio-ecological risks and outcomes. We then draw on big data to improve and train our models, generating quantitative predictions and developing measurement systems for verification.

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