Biodiversity loss is a crisis equal to climate change and NFTs are here to help

Ural owl (Strix uralensis) from our first NFT collection. Image by Swmp x Konsta Punkka

During the last few decades Earth’s biodiversity has been decreasing at an alarming rate. Actually, the rate has been so intense that the decrease has been referred to as the Sixth mass extinction (Hooper et al., 2012 & Butchart et al., 2010). The difference between this mass extinction and earlier mass extinctions is not caused by volcano eruptions or meteorite, but primarily by human actions.

Even though the climate change has got the most attention in recent years, biodiversity loss is a threat equal to climate change. Thankfully, many businesses have already realised that it is not so much the climate change-preventing actions that threaten these businesses’ existence, but it is actually the climate change itself causing that threat. It is of their responsibility to innovate and take actions in reducing the carbon emissions.

But… climate change prevention is not enough to save our businesses

Plants, clean air, filtered water, bees pollinating flowers, roots that keep the land safe from erosion… These are examples of nature’s ecosystem services that lean directly on biodiversity. Notably, we lean on these ecosystem services, as half of the world’s GDP relies on them. These are all the things you might not notice until they are absent.

From human-centric view, we are saving ourselves by slowing down the climate change, but it is actually the rich biodiversity that sustain all life (and business) on the planet. It is the very well being of all species that need to be protected in order for us to survive as well.

According to WWF there has been a 60% decline in the vertebrate populations (mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians) alone between 1970 and 2014. If the 60 % loss in the vertebrate populations would be converted to money it would be valued at around €50 billion per year (Braat et al., 2008). According to the EU’s biodiversity strategy, the decrease in Earth’s ecosystem services has caused 3,5–18,5 trillion-euro annual losses from 1997 to 2011.

The problem has been calculated and noted, but the real actions are missing.

Introducing ecological compensation

Businesses are now on the verge of realising that it is not just carbon emissions that need to be reduced and compensated. It’s the overall ecological footprint that companies leave on earth that needs to be mitigated.

This needs to be done with reductions on the harmful activities, and innovating new less harmful ways to create economic growth. These two are the most important, but we need a third option that comes right after everything else is done: ecological compensation.

Before introduction of ecological compensation, it is worth noting that carbon compensation markets so far have failed with many criteria (read more here and here).

Ecological compensation is an activity where an individual or company tries to mitigate its ecological footprint, the harm it causes to the biodiversity or ecosystem services in a certain area. This compensation is done by restoring similar nature close by. This is not easy and ecological compensation has its unique difficulties, but from what we know, nature conservation itself is always good thing to do.

Case: Finnish commercial forests

Since the losses in biodiversity endanger the functioning of human communities, it is crucial to provide protection especially for those areas in nature which provide homes for many endangered species. One of those nature types is a primary forests, and even in Finland, a land covered by forests, we have way too little of them (less than 3% of the forests).

The rest of the Finnish forests are commercial forests, which sometimes look like tree farms rather than forest. Even if these forests are growing fast, they don’t hold up the carbon for too long. Not only are they smaller carbon storages overall, but they are also worse with biodiversity as they don’t provide shelter to endangered species that need those fallen trees and richer biomass in their lives.

How is Swmp helping?

We start by protecting primary forests and actually increasing the number of primary forests. We need individuals and companies to be incentivised to do that. Swmp is helping landowners to find new economic benefits by selling their protected trees for those who benefit in protecting them. We want to build a community that is capable of doubling the size of nature conservation globally.

How do Swmp NFTs work? Visit www.swmp.earth

Our model doesn’t stop to forests, but it will cover all other global nature types, including precious wetlands, of which we have lost 85% since industrial revolution (WWF, 2020). There is a lot to be done, and we need landowners, companies, foundations, forest industry and individuals all along to create more options in supporting biodiversity which provides us everything we have.

Written by: Aleksi Lintunen, CEO & Co-founder of Swmp

To follow our journey, go to our website www.swmp.earth to find out more.

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