Empowering Communities Through the Ecocredit Module
Ecuador is at the forefront of powerful work that the Regen Network team has been piloting
This article is part of a series, exploring a number of Regen Network’s pilots, demonstrating how they are working towards empowering communities to find a way to develop their own ecocredit types that meet their context, their conditions, their culture, their ecosystems, and connecting this work to a global process.
Ecuador, straddling the equator on South America’s West Coast, is a tiny country that encompasses every biome on earth, from glaciers and tundra to steaming tropical forests and everything in between. A biome is a large community of vegetation and wildlife adapted to a specific climate that is classified according to the species in that location. Temperature range, soil type, and the amount of light and water are unique to a particular place and form the niches for specific species, allowing scientists to define the biome. Ecuador is a small country but densely rich in diversity. It’s roughly the size of Colorado in the United States, and each biome — from glaciers and tundra to the desert, is represented within its small capacity. It’s one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, with Brazil leading the charge.
Gregory Landua, the co-founder of Regen Network, was an exchange student in Ecuador in high school and studied in the country when he was in college. It’s a place that has remained deeply embedded in his heart since he first arrived there, often returning over the years that followed. Throughout his adult life, he has spent time forming relationships with people — relationships centered around taking part in regenerative, agroforestry, permaculture, and community work. “There is quite a rich tapestry of relationships among the people who are leaders in Ecuador doing regenerative work, focused on agroforestry and indigenous land management. Also indigenous politics, rights of nature work,” he says.
Currently, there are several Regen Network pilots taking place in Ecuador, some of which will be covered in this series.
Innovating Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification
One of Regen Network’s original pilot projects was with a second-level farmer cooperative called UOPROCAE. Roughly four years ago, Regen Network worked alongside Terra Genesis International and UOPROCAE to develop regenerative cacao production systems. This project paused because Regen Network shifted its focus towards carbon credits and away from holistic land certification.
In this pilot, Regen Network developed a satellite-based land classification algorithm for the verification of polyculture agroforestry versus monoculture land use, to complement a data collection approach developed by TGI called the Regenerative Outcome VerificationTM. Using this approach pioneered by Regen Network Development and Terra Genesis, allows local communities to design and sell their own open-source ecocredits. Yakum, an NGO dedicated to indigenious food sovereignty, is working with the Siekopai peoples, an indigenous group in the Ecuadorian Amazon to develop an ecocredit class for their own cultural and ecological context. This is an important alternative to imposing standardized approaches that are created without local stakeholder input.
Regen Network Development has been serving as an open-source facilitator for this ecocredit class design process, supporting the collaboration with science and technology insights to assemble the ecological claim and produce an ecocredit for Amazonian forest conservation and agroforestry practices.
Regen Network’s ecocredit module allows for issuance, transfer, retirement, and cancellation of credits in discrete credit batches. Each credit class has verification and governance standards unique to itself and is governed as a DAO. This allows for innovation and community engagement with the design of the credit class, while maintaining transparency and integrity. For a more in-depth overview of this module, visit this article that provides a detailed explanation:
“Regen Network seeks to remedy ecological degradation and climate change by realigning traditional market incentives with living capital thus improving the efficiency of the market for ecological regeneration. The long-term vision for Regen Ledger is to digitize a process that uses publicly available datasets and models to auto-generate and contractually distribute ecosystem service credits to incentivize positive ecological outcomes. Rewarding land stewards for their regenerative practices. The ecocredit module is a major step towards bringing this vision to fruition.”
Researching alternatives to fight the corruption at the core of land trafficking
Land trafficking is a practice that involves the illegal appropriation, commerce, and seizure of lands. Unfortunately, land trafficking has a checkered history in relation to carbon trading, and in the past land has been appropriated to form the basis of carbon credits. These activities exist on different scales and can be highly lucrative. Corruption plays a vital role in facilitating this trade. Although local communities are aware of the problems related to land trafficking, their ability to control it is greatly impeded by social factors and the dangers of confronting organized criminals. Land trafficking is seldom studied, but has tremendous environmental and social implications and must be addressed to face biodiversity loss related to migration to forest frontiers.
Gregory witnessed land trafficking first-hand in Ecuador. “It’s nuanced and complicated. Every single project anywhere in the world has this set of complex, beautiful, and terrible details.” he says. Regen Network Development has been supporting work in the Andean Choco region to specify community needs to land registry systems that are corruption proof and can allow for land stewards to support land claims through a community process, and then receive direct payment for ecosystem services or carbon credits with no intermediaries. The work happening to ensure that communities are able to control their own destiny and be respected for their long term stewardship is essential.
CONDESAN is a community-led initiative, working hand in hand with some of the communities experiencing land trafficking in the Andean Choco region. Regen Network is supporting CONDESAN to develop a blockchain-based land registry to strengthen land tenure security of smallholder farmers and local communities, and increase transparency of the land registry system in Ecuador. Regen Network is also coworking with TGI and CONDESAN to develop ecocredits based on the outcomes from regenerative agroforestry in that region.
Author: MathildaDV, Follow me on Twitter @mathildawrites
About Regen Network:
Regen Network’s is a public proof-of-stake blockchain custom-built for global carbon accounting on the CosmosSDK. Regen Network’s infrastructure originates high-quality nature-based digital carbon in the Interchain economy, unlocking web3 regenerative finance and catalyzing solutions to the climate crisis. Connect with Regen Network: Website, Discord, Twitter, Medium.