19 Jul 2021

Seychelles songbird becomes world's first 'digital species' for conservation

BirdLife Partner Nature Seychelles is looking for innovative ways to fund the protection of their wildlife, including the Seychelles Magpie-robin (Endangered). Today, the bird is up for sale as the first ever Digital Nature Collectible, using carbon-neutral infrastructure that expends almost zero energy.

Each token represents a living bird currently residing on Cousin Island Special Reserve © Adrian Scottow
Each token represents a living bird on Cousin Island Special Reserve © Adrian Scottow
By BirdLife International

Nature Seychelles, supported by its international partners the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Porini Foundation, have launched the world's first Digital Species. The Seychelles Magpie-robin Copsychus sechellarum (Endangered) is being offered for sale as the first ever Digital #NatureCollectible – a Non-Fungible Token for conservation.

“The Seychelles Magpie-robin will take us into the unchartered waters of digital tokens for conservation, with a limited edition of the first 59 collectibles – representing a ‘digital twin’ of this Endangered living bird. As traditional sources of funding have dried up, we need innovative ways to support long-term programmes that are the backbone of successful conservation. This is just the beginning of experiments to find new income streams for conservation,” said Dr. Nirmal Shah, the CEO of Nature Seychelles. “Each token is a representation of a living bird currently protected on Cousin Island Special Reserve, Seychelles, which are all known and can be identified through a unique system that also includes every aspect of their biology,” he said.

“Thanks to the collaboration with Nature Seychelles, this pioneering use of digital and financial technology can be promoted through a new ‘Green List exchange’ where new ideas and success stories on innovative funding mechanisms can be shared. We will further explore how other ‘Green List’ protected areas and their supporters can secure new and additional resources. One idea now is to create a special series of ‘nature collectibles’ from protected areas around the world, and encourage new digital supporters and investors to join conservation efforts,” said James Hardcastle of IUCN.

Nature Seychelles is a long-standing and active member of IUCN. Cousin Island Special Reserve is committed to achieve the IUCN ‘Green List’ standard for effective nature conservation. The financing from the digital species sale will support ongoing conservation efforts.

 

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Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are tokens that can be used to represent ownership of unique items. Written on a blockchain (made up of chunks of information distributed across several computer systems), they can only have one official owner at a time. Porini Foundation has created blockchain infrastructure that is nearly zero energy consumption and completely carbon-neutral. Rather than using vast amounts of energy looking for somewhere to host each chunk of information in the chain, nature conservation organisations give their permission to host a block themselves. This means that there is a pre-existing chain of people already set up to look after the digital species, making it far more energy efficient than other online currencies such as bitcoin. Each step in the chain uses the energy equivalent of a light bulb, and the Porini Foundation is buying carbon certificates to compensate for this.

The digital species, as a limited edition, have been assigned an initial value for their sale. They can be resold and shared by collectors. Importantly, all the proceeds of the initial sale will go directly to Nature Seychelles. Owners of the digital Seychelles Magpie-robin can sell on their Nature Collectibles and the follow-on proceeds will be shared between the seller and Nature Seychelles and partners. In this way, the active collection of these NFTs will generate an income stream for nature conservation.

If you want to buy the world’s first Digital Nature Collectible, they are available now at https://porini-foundation.myshopify.com/. There are multiple ways in which you can show, share, trade or display your #NatureCollectibles. The easiest way is to use the dedicated App which will be available for use on your mobile phone.

“Soon after the pandemic started I wrote a blog entitled ‘Next-Gen Conservation’ where I said that international organisations, tech people and on-the-ground conservation actors must come together to build a new architecture for conservation. IUCN took note. We are very grateful to key people at IUCN and the Porini Foundation.  Without them the Digital Nature Collectibles would have remained a great idea, and nothing more,” Nirmal Shah said.

 

Get a first edition Seychelles Magpie-robin #NatureCollectible here!